45 years ago today, 23 September 1976, Queen held ‘A Day At The Races’ launch party at Kempton Park RaceCourse in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, England

Let’s quickly recap 1976 which started off a great year for Queen: In January, Freddie was presented with another Ivor Novello Award for Bohemian Rhapsody. (The first Ivor Novello was for ‘Killer Queen’)


The band also began their third North American tour which would go through March. Then they would go directly to Japan which of course, now, arriving to a riotous reception.

During this time, all four of their albums were in the UK charts top twenty, a feat unheard of. Congratulations to Queen, that’s amazing.

They completed their extensive tour of Japan and went to Australia for their Down Under Tour.

They would fly back to the UK to began their fifth album, ‘A Day At The Races.’ But first, Queen would do a short UK tour. This led to their triumphant appearance at London’s Hyde on 18th of September. The band decided they wanted to say ‘thank you’ to their dedicated fans, and so – in true extravagant style – they staged a huge FREE concert in London’s Hyde Park. The crowds were estimated at between 150 and 200 thousand people – the largest audience Queen had played to up to that time, and to date still the highest-ever attendance record for a concert in Hyde Park.

September 23, 1976, Queen trot down to Kempton Park to promote their forthcoming album ‘A Day At The Races’ in style

This special race was called, “A Day At The Races Stakes,” and was sponsored by their label, EMI. Freddie accompanied by Mary Austin and John Reid. Brian May with his wife, Chrissy Mullen May. Roger Taylor is with his then girlfriend, Jo Morris. John was also in attendance.

Wouldn’t you know, they all placed bets on the same horse, of course, they never revealed this to each other. The name of the horse – Lanzarote, ridden by Champion Jockey John Francombe (he’s the third most successful National Hunt jump jockey of all time).

The fantastic news, Lanzarote won! Impressive!

Their big news would come five days before, ‘A Day At The Races’ was released (December 1976) when they discovered their album pre-sales were more than half a million, the highest orders EMI had ever received for any album.

Once again Queen’s operatic and torch flavoured elements rose to the fore. And if all that wasn’t enough, Groucho Marx sent the group a handwritten note to congratulate them on their excellent taste!

In return, the band sent him a ‘Queen II’ tour jacket, which arrived just before his death.

What a year 1976 turned out to be!