Horse-mad Queen Elizabeth II could be destined for a visit to the famous Curragh Racecourse and possibly the state-run National Stud when she makes her first ever trip to the Republic of Ireland in May.
While a date has not yet been announced, she is most likely to come here in the late May. Buckingham Palace has formally accepted an invitation from President Mary McAleese.
It is understood the 84-year-old Queen has asked for an equestrian flavour to the trip and is likely to attend a horse event during the visit.
If the trip takes place before President Barack Obama’s visit to London, the Queen could attend the 2,000 Guineas, which takes place at the Curragh on May 21/22.
She will be accompanied by her husband Prince Philip on the trip which is the first visit by a British monarch to the Republic in 100 years.
Speaking to the Leader, the Curragh Racecourse could not confirm or deny a visit to the racecourse. According to its commerical manager Evan Arkwright: “We are hopeful that the Curragh Racecourse will be included in her itinerary. We have no confirmation one way or the other, but we are hopeful. The Queen and the Royal Family have great historial links with the Curragh Racecourse.”
The visit will result in the biggest VIP protection operation for more than two decades. “We will discuss security with her people and see what is the best way forward. We will not take anything to chance and we will work closely with the authorities. We have had a number of VIPs before, Jackie Kennedy in the 1960s and various members of the European Royal Family over the years. We will take all the precautions necessary to ensure our VIPS have a safe and enjoyable time.”
The Queen has a horse entered into the Irish Derby, Carlton House, and she still has time to enter a horse in the 2,000 Guineas.
It has also been reported that in the talks underway to arrange the three-day visit, the state-sponsored National Stud, home to some of Europe’s best stallions – Amadeus Wold, Art Connoisseur, and Invincible Stud, has been mentioned.
It has been reported the planned three-day trip, to cost the Irish taxpayer E500,000, has led to a major crackdown on dissident Republicans on both sides of the border over the past 15 months.
The announcement was welcomed by all the political parties except Sinn Fein who said it was “premature” and dissent groups have already began protesting. Vice-president of Republican Sinn Fein Athy man Des Dalton held a picket outside Dail Eireann last Tuesday in protest.