Chris Waller unable to attend Queen’s funeral due to Covid: Australian Horse trainer Winx

Champion horse trainer Chris Waller has been forced to turn down his invitation to fly to the Queen’s funeral with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, after one of his family members was struck down by Covid. 

Mr Waller, 49, who is best known for training the recording-breaking mare Winx, was a close friend of Her Majesty and often called her every Saturday to discuss the weekend races.

In a statement posted to social media on Thursday, Mr Waller expressed his heartache about not being able to attend the service at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19 (Monday evening AEST). 

‘It’s an honour and I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the people of Australia to represent the country in farewelling Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,’ he said. 

Champion horse trainer Chris Waller has been forced to turn down his invitation to the Queen’s funeral after a family member was struck down by Covid

Mr Waller, 49, who is best known for training the recording-breaking mare Winx, was a close friend of Her Majesty (pictured) and called her on weekends to discuss the races

Mr Waller, 49, who is best known for training the recording-breaking mare Winx, was a close friend of Her Majesty (pictured) and called her on weekends to discuss the races 

‘Unfortunately due to Covid-19 related circumstances I am unable to attend the funeral.’ 

Mr Waller is understood to have voluntarily chosen not to board the jet with Mr Albanese – whose MPs have steadfastly chosen to wear face masks during sessions of Parliament.  

Queen Elizabeth II had a passion for thoroughbred horse racing and even had one of her own horses, Chalk Stream, in Mr Waller’s stable. 

The Sydney-based trainer and his wife Stephanie gave Her Majesty a shoe from Winx’s final win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes as a memento at a lunch during Royal Ascot. 

Queen Elizabeth II with her horse Estimate in the winner's enclosure after it wins the Gold Cup on the third day of Royal Ascot in 2013

Queen Elizabeth II with her horse Estimate in the winner’s enclosure after it wins the Gold Cup on the third day of Royal Ascot in 2013

Queen Elizabeth II is pictured horse-riding in 1961 - something which became a lifelong passion

Queen Elizabeth II is pictured horse-riding in 1961 – something which became a lifelong passion

Mr Waller became grew ‘concerned’ when his usual weekly chat with the Queen did not go ahead, just days before she died at Balmoral Castle last, aged 96, The Daily Telegraph reported. 

‘Like so many others, I will live with and cherish for the rest of my life the fond memories I have of Her Majesty; her love of horses and all animals, her passion for life, and the respect she gave everyday people,’ Mr Waller said.

‘My deepest condolences go out to the Royal Family and the rest of the world that currently mourn.

‘What a great life Her Majesty lived, and what an inspiration she was, and will continue to be, to so many generations around the globe.’ 

James McDonald talks to Chris Waller after riding Nature Strip in an exhibition gallop during Sydney Racing at Rosehill Gardens

James McDonald talks to Chris Waller after riding Nature Strip in an exhibition gallop during Sydney Racing at Rosehill Gardens

On Thursday Prime Minister Anthony Albanese became one of the first dignitaries to set off for the funeral.

The PM is bringing with him nine ‘everyday’ people with him for the emotional service that takes place next week.

They include wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott, while horse trainer Chris Waller was invited but was forced to withdraw on Thursday after a close family member contracted Covid-19.

The Queen knew Mr Waller well and was said to be in contact with him before her death last Thursday.

The other Australian guests are Senior Australian of the Years Valmai Dempsy and Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, Local Heroes Shanna Whan, Saba Abraham, and Kim Smith, Young Australian of the Year Trudy Lin, Western Australian of the Year Helen Milroy, and i4give founder Danny Abdallah.

Mr Albanese also offered a space on his flight to Gai and Robert Waterhouse, champion racing figures who had a personal relationship with The Queen.

Dignitaries begin to board one of two RAAF aircraft at Sydney Airport, Sydney, on Thursday ahead of the funeral next week

Dignitaries begin to board one of two RAAF aircraft at Sydney Airport, Sydney, on Thursday ahead of the funeral next week

The pair were invited to the funeral by Lord Chamberlain Andrew Parker. Another Australian who trained for the Queen, David Hayes, will attend the funeral after travelling from Hong Kong where he is based.

Mr Albanese said earlier this week: ‘These everyday Australians will travel alongside myself and the Governor-General and will join the Acting High Commissioner Lynn Atwood who is currently located in the United Kingdom.

‘We have put together and confirmed all of these people will be able to travel, they will be on the same plane as me that will leave from Sydney on Thursday.

While most nations can send their leader or appointed delegate plus a guest, the Commonwealth realms, which retain the monarch as head of state, are being granted extra representation.

The realms can send prime ministers plus a guest, governors general plus a guest and the high commissioner.

They are also allowed to bring 10 ordinary citizens.

Earlier on Thursday controversial soldier Ben Roberts-Smith flew out of Brisbane for London on a commercial jet, rather than accompany Mr Albanese. 

Mr Roberts-Smith, 43, Afghanistan veterans Mark Donaldson and Daniel Keighran, and Vietnam veteran Keith Payne were invited separately by the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.

The Queen was patron of the association since it began in 1956, and asked before her death that all living members be invited to her funeral.

In a statement posted to social media on Thursday, he expressed his heartache about not being able to attend the service at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19

In a statement posted to social media on Thursday, he expressed his heartache about not being able to attend the service at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19

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