THE Queen has arrived in Somerset to begin a series of equine-related engagements in the county.

Her Majesty arrived in Castle Cary station by Royal Train where she was met by Annie Maw, the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, and was presented with a posy by a child.

The Queen then departed for Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat where she will meet champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

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After arriving at the stables, the Queen, who was wearing an Angela Kelly-designed lime green and ivory summer tweed dress, with coat and matching hat with 'Diamond Star' brooch, was introduced to Mr Nicholls.

Six of his national hunt horses - including Frodon and the Sir Alex Ferguson co-owned Clan Des Obeaux - were paraded to the Queen before she fed them carrots.

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Her Majesty then heard from representatives from the University of Bath working on research projects on equestrian sport spinal injuries and racehorse welfare.

Before departing, the Queen was presented with a posy by eight-year-old Zara Nicholls, Mr Nicholls' daughter, and a hamper from local cheesemaker Barber's.

Mr Nicholls also gave the Queen a framed black and white photograph of the Queen Mother presenting him with the Hennessy Gold Cup trophy in 1987.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Nicholls described the occasion as "amazing".

"It was a fantastic experience to bring Her Majesty to the yard and meet the superstar horses. I was more nervous about today then I was about the Cheltenham Festival," he said.

"She loved seeing the horses and gave them all a carrot and she knew as much about them as we do.

"She saw them run at Cheltenham and she knows what she is talking about and loved feeding them.

"I have been lucky enough to meet the Queen several times and she is obviously a racing enthusiast."

Mr Nicholls added: "I jokingly said to the Queen that box one is currently empty and we have space for one of her horses."

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During the visit Her Majesty heard from Professor Keith Stokes and Dr Dario Cazzola, from the University of Bath's Department for Health, who presented their new project with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) focusing on spinal injury reduction for jockeys.

This research builds on previous injury prevention work within rugby union.

They will use the BHA's digital archive of race footage to map and digitally re-construct the detail of how jockeys fall.

Combined with research to be conducted at the British Racing School in Newmarket, the project will highlight the links between certain types of falls and increased chances of spinal injury.

Prof Stokes said: "Spinal injuries can have a dramatic impact on peoples' lives and using the digital archive to inform strategies that have the potential to reduce the risk of these injuries is extremely valuable.

"Today was an exciting opportunity to showcase to Her Majesty the important impact we hope to make with these projects in improving safety in horse racing."