Queen amused as jockey rides mechanical horse at racing centre


The Queen smiled as a jockey gave a demonstration of a horse simulator - like a bucking bronco - on a tour of a racing centre.

She was shown the mechanical animal during a visit to Newmarket to officially open the new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.

The Queen, dressed in pink, first unveiled a statue of a foal and a mare at an entrance to Newmarket Racecourse as a gift in the year of her 90th birthday.

The gesture from the Suffolk town, often referred to as the headquarters of British racing, is also in celebration of the Queen's lifelong dedication to the thoroughbred horse.

She was then driven to the nearby centre, where she was greeted by schoolchildren singing the National Anthem and waving Union flags.

She was shown around the grounds of the centre, where horses are kept, including two of her former racehorses, Barbers Shop and Quadrille.

The Queen fed a carrot to one horse before being taken into the Trainers' House where she was shown the racehorse simulator.

She asked jockey Pat Cosgrave, who was putting the machine through its paces: "Does it feel like a horse?"

The rider replied: "Basically, yeah."

A colleague added: "It's a good way of getting you fit. I've used one quite a lot when I've been off injured."

A sign explained that the simulator allowed jockeys to "experience the thrill of a race" but that they must only ride under supervision.

And it warned: "Do not ride the horse simulator if you are pregnant or think you might be, if you have a bad back or are of a nervous disposition."

Peter Jensen, the centre's director and chairman of the Home of Horseracing Trust, gave a short speech welcoming the Queen before she unveiled a plaque.

The Queen opened a racing museum at a separate site in the town in 1983, Mr Jensen said, and the new centre had an expanded role.

She then toured the centre's gift shop, where commercial director Liz Jenkinson showed her a special horseracing version of Monopoly.

Ms Jenkinson asked if she might play it with her grandchildren, and the Queen joked that she would not have the time.

Ms Jenkinson said the centre would post her a Monopoly set.

As the Queen cast her eye over an array of items on display, including Newmarket Gin, miniature horse statues and mugs, she remarked on a postcard bearing a photograph of Trooping the Colour - "That's an unflattering photograph of me."

Among the other gifts on sale was a book titled Her Majesty's Pleasure - How Horseracing Enthrals The Queen.

After leaving the shop, the royal visitor went outside where crowds greeted her again, and she was given a bouquet of flowers from a well-wisher.

She was taken on a guided tour of sporting artwork in the Palace House part of the centre before being driven away.