UK Horse Racing, EPL Halted, Bookies Close, as Mark of Respect for Queen

Horse racing and many UK sports, including EPL soccer, have been put on hold as the country entered an official period of national mourning over the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen pats her horse “Estimate” on her nose after its 2013 Gold Cup win at Royal Ascot. British horse racing will miss her faithful patronage. Charles III is less enamored of the “Sport of Kings” than his mother. (Image: Racing Post)

The monarch, who reigned for more than 70 years, died peacefully at her Scottish castle, Balmoral, on Thursday afternoon. She was 96.

In a statement yesterday, the British Horseracing Authority paid tribute to the Queen, who was a passionate racing enthusiast. It called her the “greatest and most influential supporter in the history of horse racing.”

‘Debt of Gratitude’

She was a patron of the Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, as well as the figurehead of the Royal Ascot Racecourse. As a breeder and owner, her twice the UK’s Flat champions in the 1950s. More recently, her horse “Estimate” won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2013.

“Racing owes an incalculable debt of gratitude, not only for her majesty’s dedication and commitment to the sport, but for her public advocacy of it, something that doubtless has driven the sport’s popularity and attracted a great number of fans,” said the BHA.

There will be many who work in racing who have enjoyed relationships with her majesty through the training and breeding of her horses and will be grieving,” the organization added.

Some bookmakers have also closed their doors as a mark of respect, including William Hill and Betfred. William Hill said its retail outlets would remain shut on Saturday. With both soccer and cricket canceled, there will be few opportunities for Brits to bet on their favorite sports, although rugby will continue on Saturday.

EPL Pushback

The EPL’s decision to cancel all its games this weekend comes with a little controversy. Many fans have spent heavily on travel and accommodation for away games, and these expenses will not be refunded.

Such is the EPL’s global reach that some fans have come from even further afield. has seen at least two examples of US-based Twitter users who had flown to London to watch their first live EPL game, only to find it would be called off.

While some soccer fans were respectful of the EPL’s decision, others wondered whether it would be better to continue with the schedule and let fans pay their own tribute to the Queen, who allegedly supported Arsenal.

“I know it’s only a game, and some things are much bigger, but imagine all our games went ahead this weekend. Black armbands, silences observed, national anthem, Royal band playing, etc., to the millions around the world watching? Isn’t that a better send off?” asked former Spurs and England striker Peter Crouch of his Twitter followers.

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