04/30/2007 11:00PM

Monarch's visit needn't cause butterflies


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Queen Elizabeth II of England will be at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. If you're on the grounds at the same time, this could be your big chance to greet not just racing royalty, but actual royalty. If you're standing in the mutuel line and the queen approaches you to ask what the pick six carryover is, what should you do? Here are a few hints.

In the United Kingdom, the queen's formal title is "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith." Luckily, you may employ the shorter alternative, "Your Majesty," in your first reference to the queen. You need not bow or curtsy unless you happen to be British. If she engages you in conversation, you should simply call her "ma'am."

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will be joining his wife at Churchill, and if you should bump into him, you should refer to him as "Your Royal Highness" in the first instance and "sir" thereafter.

Greeting royalty sounds simple but can be tricky. One worker at a British Army office, having been coached on the above, was overcome by a fit of nerves and addressed her sovereign simply with, "Hi." Nor would the palace endorse the title one overawed speaker came up with while addressing Prince Charles: "Your Sirness."

Even if you are one of the queen's close relatives, you should stand if you are able when the queen enters the room. If the queen extends her hand to shake yours, by all means accept. But try to refrain from vigorously pumping the royal arm; a brief touch is preferred. And don't turn your back to the queen.

And if the queen has accepted your invitation to stop by for a beer and a little TVG, you might feel obliged to undertake some renovations, as one American did when her home was selected as a royal "rest stop" on an earlier visit the queen paid to the States. The hostess spent $16,000 to redecorate her bathroom entirely for the occasion.

Royal feast at the track

Gil Logan, executive chef for Levy Restaurants at Churchill Downs, also has been boning up on royal etiquette.

"You can go online and look up 'queen's etiquette,' " said Logan. "There's a place where they name the four people in the last 29 years who have inappropriately, like, hugged the queen. I don't want to be number five."

Logan had already prepared the Derby menu when the call came earlier this year alerting him that the queen might attend. He submitted the menu to Buckingham Palace, and it responded enthusiastically to his choices, which include barbeque shrimp, Kentucky bibb salad, roast chicken in shiitake mushroom sauce, and pole beans with fried onions and hickory-smoked ham hocks.

"They said they had Googled me and they love what we're doing with the all-Kentucky natural foods, the Kentucky Proud program, and using all local ingredients," said Logan, referring to Churchill's support for Kentucky-branded products. "She wants to come experience the pageantry that is the Derby through the Kentucky perspective. So we'd already planned a meal fit for a queen, we just didn't know it."

The palace did intimate that the queen likes Earl Grey tea, prompting Logan and Mark Nethery of John Conti Coffee Company to research the best blend of Indian tea, Ceylon tea, and Bergamot orange oil for the ideal Earl Grey. Nethery himself has perfected the blend, which will be served to the queen and Prince Philip from a tea set specially shipped from England by the queen's friend Lord Wedgwood.

All about the breeding

Buckingham Palace has not released any itinerary for the private portion of the queen's visit to Kentucky. But it is widely believed that her trip will be similar to previous journeys in 1984, 1986, and 1991, when she stayed with Will and Sarah Farish at their Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky., and viewed area stallions.

The queen has 23 broodmares, and none of them are in the States. But she has bred mares to American stallions as recently as last year, when she sent her Riverman mare Arutua, a daughter of the 1983 Horse of the Year, All Along, to Kentucky to be bred to Storm Cat. Other sires the queen has used in recent years include El Prado and Elusive Quality, who both performed well on turf.

"It would be fair to say that, like most breeders, she favors successful bloodlines," said John Warren, the queen's bloodstock adviser. "Nicks and crosses are very important, and when the matings are being designed, one is mindful of what isn't working and what is working. The object wouldn't be to go for fashion. The queen prefers proven stallions and wouldn't just be interested in using a stallion just for the sake of fashion. Having said that, if something is fashionably successful, that is always of interest."

Warren said that the queen will occasionally purchase mares at auction to add to the royal broodmare band and has done so recently with three or four outside mares that "have helped to diversify the original royal bloodlines."

"She is an excellent horsewoman," Warren added. "She obviously would be a great judge of a horse, because not only does she know Thoroughbreds, but she has a great eye for all breeds of horse. She's very diversified in her knowledge.

"She is extremely mindful when considering the matings. She has a wonderful memory for the conformation of her broodmares, whom she does know intimately, and she has significant input in piecing together the jigsaw of a mating, considering the make of the stallions for the mares that she has. It's her great interest."

The British royal family has a long history in the development and nurturing of the Thoroughbred sport. British royalty have long been visitors to Newmarket, and Queen Anne founded Ascot in 1711. Queen Elizabeth II was introduced to Thoroughbred breeding on visits to the Royal Stud at Sandringham, Norfolk, with her grandfather George V, who also gave the young Elizabeth her first pony. Now that she has a string of her own, the Queen's racing colors are the same as King Edward VII's and George IV's when he was Prince Regent: purple with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black cap with gold fringe.