SI Vault
Andre Laguerre
October 18, 1954
Elizabeth II, a racing fan from childhood on, will be the first ruler to race the royal colors outside Britain when her horse Landau comes here next month
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October 18, 1954

The Queen Who Loves The Sport Of Kings

Elizabeth II, a racing fan from childhood on, will be the first ruler to race the royal colors outside Britain when her horse Landau comes here next month

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Brook heeded not the laughter of the ignoramuses who dubbed him a hypnotist or a psychiatric horse doctor. He explained his technique was "one that substitutes, for existing impulses in the nervous system, impulses that dictate the conduct or condition desired. It is a nonphysical treatment of the nervous system."

More specifically, Brook's treatment involved spending some time in Landau's box, with one hand on the horse's withers and another on his girth muscle. This had a soporific effect on the animal. He used to drop off to sleep with his head on the doctor's shoulder. An even more tangible sequel was that Landau won three of his next four races and thus qualified for the invitation to race at Laurel on Nov. 3.

It now looks as if the good doctor may have to be called in once more before Landau is flown to the U.S. On September 28, this son of British Derby winner Dante and Sun Chariot was given a final trial race before the Laurel event. Landau was only one of four entries in the one-mile Old Rowley Stakes, and on that chilly afternoon 8,000 fans were huddled in and around the drab stands on Newmarket Heath when the small field cantered to the post.


Landau, the favorite at 8 to 15, broke fast as is his wont. Two furlongs from home, he looked good. Jockey Willie Snaith's royal silks in gold, scarlet and purple loomed prominently, and loyal subjects were ready to sweep off their hats for the traditional ceremonious cheer which greets every royal winner.

Abruptly, as Snaith began to drive, Landau's head lifted. Within the next few strides, the royal debacle was sadly evident. Marshal Ney, a 17-to-1 long shot ridden by the French-Australian ace, Rae Johnstone, was an easy winner. Trailing by 10 lengths, Landau finished a dismal last.

Captain Moore, a weatherbeaten Irishman from Tipperary, strode glumly from the paddock to send a wire to the Queen, then still vacationing at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. He told reporters, "We must think again about sending Landau to Laurel. But I can say no more. The decision is Her Majesty's."

Next morning the racing correspondent of the Daily Mirror , Britain's leading tabloid, was given the honors of his paper's front page on which to write: "I saw this sorry fiasco, and the impression I formed was that Landau is not fit to represent the Queen in a great international event.

"A performance like yesterday's could do nothing but harm to the prestige of British bloodstock."

The Mirror's ink was hardly dry when Elizabeth announced her decision: Landau would run at Laurel as planned. It was a decision quite typical of two of her characteristics, love of a good horse race and plain stubbornness. With it goes not exactly a "sporting" spirit, but the philosophy which every racing fan has to develop if he is going to stick with the game for long. She very much wants to beat out Mr. Clark for the leading money-winner title in Britain this year. She very much wants Landau to win at Laurel. If she gets neither wish, chances are her reaction will be the same as that which she communicated to her kid sister 12 years ago: "It's just horse racing."

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