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  Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 20:31 GMT
'First Lady of the Turf' mourned
The Queen Mother's horse Devon Loch after the 1956 Grand National
Devon Loch almost won at Aintree for the Queen Mother
BBC Sport Online looks back at the Queen Mother's close involvement with the world of racing.

The Queen Mother was seen as the patron saint of National Hunt racing for more than five decades.

She was known as the 'First Lady of the Turf' and her support gave jump racing a new-found prestige.

In May 1994 she reached a major milestone as an owner when Nearco Bay became her 400th winner.


It goes without saying that she was the favourite person in National Hunt racing
Nicky Henderson

The horse, who stayed on bravely to land the Neville Lumb Silver Jubilee Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter, was even discussed as a potential Grand National winner.

But that was a prize which always eluded the Queen Mother.

Her love of the sport began during Royal Ascot week in 1949 when Lord Mildmay of Flete, the leading amateur rider of the day, was staying at Windsor Castle.

Mildmay persuaded his royal hostess that it would be fun to own a jumper and to send it to his trainer friend Major Peter Cazalet.

Royal monarchs have a tradition of involvement with the Flat, but few have shown an interest in National Hunt racing.

High point

The Queen Mother paid her first visit to Aintree for the Grand National in 1950, when the Irish-bred Monaveen finished fifth in her colours.

Six years later she looked set for her first winner when Devon Loch fell when leading less than 50 yards from the finish.

Although still dogged by ill-luck in the big races, she reached a high point in 1964-65 when her horses won 27 races, making her the third most successful owner of the season.

In 1973 Peter Cazalet died of cancer and the great days of Fairlawne were over.


I'm very proud to have ridden 106 winners for her
Jockey David Mould

The Queen Mother's reduced string was transferred to the Saxon House yard in Lambourn of Fulke Walwyn, another masterly trainer of steeplechasers.

Walwyn was responsible for her most valuable success, the 1984 Whitbread Gold Cup with Special Cargo.

When Walwyn died in 1990, his wife Cath took over as the principal trainer of the Queen Mother's horses until she retired at the end of the 1992/3 season.

After that, her horses were trained by Ian Balding, Nicky Henderson and Tim Thomson Jones.

'Special to everyone'

At Fakenham in February 2000 she enjoyed a double with Kings Rhapsody and Bella Macrae, both trained by Henderson.

He said: "It goes without saying that she was the favourite person in National Hunt racing - she was like our patron saint."

Jockey David Mould, who rode 106 winners for the Queen Mother, said: "It was an honour to know the Lady.

"The news is devastating, you had the impression she would live forever.


I am eternally grateful for her efforts as a patron of my trust, and for the privilege of knowing her
Retired racing commentator
Sir Peter O'Sullevan

"She was kind, knowledgeable and special to everyone. I'm very proud to have ridden 106 winners for her."

Tristram Ricketts, secretary general of the British Horseracing Board, said: "The whole of racing shared the country's deep affection for a remarkable woman who graced the sport with an immeasurable contribution throughout her life."

Retired commentator Sir Peter O'Sullevan witnessed virtually all of the Queen Mother's high and lows on the Turf.

He said: "My abiding memory is her wonderfully infectious enthusiasm and her support for anybody with whom she was associated with, and of course for the millions of others with whom she wasn't.

"I am eternally grateful for her efforts as a patron of my trust, and for the privilege of knowing her."

The Queen Mother's last success was with the Nicky Henderson-trained First Love at Sandown Park on 8 March.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght
"She was the First Lady of the Sport of Kings"
Racing trainer Nicky Henderson
"We will remember some wonderfully happy days"
See also:

Links to more Horse Racing stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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