Frankie Dettori leads horse racing tributes to most famous fan after death of the Queen

The horse racing industry has paid tribute to its most famous fan, with leading figures saying that the sport "won't be the same" following the Queen's death.

Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday in Balmoral at the age of 96 and had a love for horses throughout her life.

Her Majesty regularly visited Newmarket in Suffolk, the home of thoroughbred breeding, with her first visit thought to be in 1944 when she was still a princess.

Throughout her 70-year reign, the Queen's love for the races - famously known as the sport of kings and queens - would remain constant.

After the news was announced, flowers were laid at the Queen, Mare and Foal statue at Newmarket, which was opened as part of £15m National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in 2016.

Floral tributes have been laid at a statue of the Queen in Newmarket. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Derek Thompson, one of the top horse racing commentators and presenters, said Her Majesty had been a "magnificent ambassador" for the sport.

Tweeting after hearing about Her Majesty's death, Thompson said: "Our Queen. Our guiding light. A magnificent ambassador of our sport with a passionate love of horses.

"It was an honour to meet Her Majesty and we shared a laugh. May you rest in peace with your beloved Prince Philip."

Speaking to ITV News, he said: "It's just incredible.

"When she arrived at the races, everything stopped and it won't be the same without her."

The commentator reminisced with a story about Her Majesty and said: "She came over to me and she always she had a glass of water and a napkin.

"And she said to me: 'I know you. And I said: 'I know you too!'

"And we just had a lovely chat about horses and racing. I said: 'When I'm commentating when your horse wins, it's just a huge honour: 'Her Majesty The Queen wins the race'."

Three-time champion jockey Frankie Dettori MBE rode over 50 winners for the Queen - out of more than 1,800 victories the monarch enjoyed - and gave a heartfelt tribute on social media.

He said she was a "remarkable person".

The Newmarket-based Jockey Club, one of the biggest organisation in the UK horse racing industry, said it was a "deeply saddening time".

Richard Hannon, a leading trainers at Newmarket, tweeted several photos of the Queen riding horses, and said: "A truly incredible woman who devoted her life to her country.

"Rest well Your Majesty."

Godolphin, the global thoroughbred breeding operation founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, highlighted the Queen's love for racing in a tribute.

It operates two racing stables in Newmarket and Godolphin said it was "deeply saddened" by the Queen's death.

Paul Nicholls OBE, who has trained over 3,000 winners, remembered a visit from Her Majesty in his tribute on social media.

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