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Queen’s hopes of Platinum Jubilee Derby glory dashed by withdrawals

Jockey Frankie Dettori on Reach For The Moon (Steven Paston/PA)
Jockey Frankie Dettori on Reach For The Moon (Steven Paston/PA)

The Queen’s hopes of winning the Epsom Derby during her Platinum Jubilee year have ended after her horse Reach For The Moon, who was among the favourites, and two others were withdrawn.

The head of state is a passionate horse owner and breeder and would have been looking forward to seeing her horses take on the best in the world in the famous classic.

Thoroughbreds owned by the Queen have won four out of the five flat racing classics – the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger – with only the Derby eluding her.

Royal Ascot 2021 – Day Five
The Queen inspects her horse Reach For The Moon (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Reach For The Moon was returning from injury, but John Gosden – the horse’s joint trainer – said the Derby had come too soon for the thoroughbred, the Racing Post reported.

Mr Gosden told the publication: “Following a setback last autumn, Reach For The Moon has been given all the time and care he requires in his training programme.

“We had planned to run him in the Dante Stakes at York next week. However, in the best interests of horse we have decided that this race is coming too soon for him.

“Consequently, he will not run in the Derby and will be pointed towards Royal Ascot.”

The Queen had two other horses – Educator and General Idea – entered in the race, which is being staged during the extended June Bank Holiday weekend when national celebrations mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.

But when the Jockey Club announced the horses still entered for the Derby – a total of 43 – the Queen’s three thoroughbreds were among a large number who had been “scratched” from the entry list.

Newbury – Friday July 16th
Reach For The Moon in action (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Educator and General Idea were long shots in the betting to win the Derby, and their trainer William Haggas told the Telegraph: “General Idea is a maiden and he will be alright one day and Educator would have a lot to do to win a Derby as it stands.

“I hope, though, he will be a very nice horse one day.”

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be marked by a special tribute from the world of racing – past and present jockeys who have ridden for the monarch forming a guard of honour on Derby day.

Leading rider Frankie Dettori and Willie Carson – who has ridden some of the Queen’s most memorable winners – are expected to line part of the Epsom Derby course with up to 40 others when the head of state arrives.

Organisers hope the Queen, who has been experiencing mobility issues, will attend the Derby with her family.

The Jockey Club has previously announced a few days before the Derby is run the Queen’s Stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse will also be renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Stand in recognition of the monarch’s contribution to horseracing and her long association with the Derby.