Olympic torch: Princess and showjumper crown relay day

Harvey Smith carried the torch at York Racecourse
Image caption Harvey Smith carried the torch at York Racecourse

The Olympic flame burned brightly at York Racecourse at the end of a 150-mile journey on day 32 of the torch relay, which was touched by royalty.

Princess Beatrice, whose father is Duke of York, welcomed the flame, carried by Janet Baker, to Harewood House, Leeds.

Then, after being carried along part of York's famous city walls, the torch was handed to ex-showjumper Harvey Smith.

The 74-year-old Yorkshireman lit the cauldron at York racecourse after carrying the flame on his horse, Paddy.

It was clearly an emotional moment for Smith, a former Olympic showjumper, whose two sons also competed at the Games.

He told the excited crowds at the racecourse: "I'm very honoured for the whole of Yorkshire to do this for them, I've worked hard for this city."

Earlier, Ms Baker, 33, had taken the flame into Harewood House, halfway through its 150-mile journey from Hull to York , where she was greeted by the princess and the Earl of Harewood.

She said: "Coming up that drive, it was absolutely amazing - just walking through the ticket booths and then seeing the crowds start to get thicker and thicker.

Image caption Janet Baker said it was "pretty special, pretty good" carrying the torch and meeting the princess

"And with everybody stood on the steps waiting, it was, like, wow."

She added that the princess welcomed her and said "how proud she was" seeing her carry the torch.

Next generation

Princess Beatrice also chatted with the crowds and handed out prizes after a sporting event at the grounds of the house, in which children from 13 local schools competed.

This was her second involvement in 2012 events as she also ran in the Olympic Park race in March.

Lord Harewood said: "It's a great honour for the Olympic torch to come here, obviously.

"A lot of people here. A lot of kids here. For us I think that's the most important thing - to engage schoolchildren, engage the next generation with all the good things there are about the Olympics."

Tuesday's route took the relay from Hull to York through Brough, Goole, Camblesforth, Selby, Monk Fryston, Barkston Ash, Tadcaster, Boston Spa, Wetherby, Harewood, Knaresborough, Harrogate and Ripon.

The first torchbearer of the day just after 07:00 BST was Erica Hughes, 72, from Pocklington, who started at Hull's The Deep aquarium, home to more than 3,500 fish.

She was selected to carry the torch for her voluntary work with a team of medics at an ear, nose and throat clinic in Nepal.

Among the others taking part were Philip Jones, 60, from York, and Harrogate's 16-year-old Scott Stockdale, who carried their torches along part of the historic city walls, which stretch for two-and-a-half miles.

Lewis Birkinshaw, 17, Bradford Academy's current citizen of the year, carried the torch at Fountains Abbey in Ripon, which is a World Heritage Site.

Other torchbearers included George Stocker, 13, from Fairfield, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2008.

He had 48 weeks of chemotherapy and has gone on to raise £50,000 for Candlelighters charity, to help other children he believes are "more poorly" than himself.

Charity cycle ride

As it approached York, 85-year-old John Bickers carried the Olympic torch for the second time, having done so before the last London Olympics in 1948.

Clive Warley, 74, was one of those who carried the flame through his home city.

He was born with spina bifida and supports the Paralympics and special Olympic sports at local, regional and national level.

Another York torchbearer was 34-year-old Luke Young from Dishforth, who carried the flame along The Shambles. He was chosen to run with the torch after cycling from London to Paris to raise money for charity.

And then the day ended in grand style - with a little drama, too - when Smith, 74 - one of Yorkshire's own - mounted his novice showjumper, Paddy, to take his torch into the racecourse.

Smith, often a controversial character during his equestrian career, competed in two Olympic Games and won an individual bronze medal at the 1970 World Championships.

After collecting the torch, Smith had to drop it to the ground while he brought his slightly startled young horse under control.

The flame remained lit, and Smith took the torch back from one of the security team before proceeding slowly with Paddy along the track.

Then he dismounted, climbed on to the stage and lit the cauldron to crown the evening celebrations.

He told the crowds: "I first went into Olympic training in 1959, and I have been to the Olympics three or four times."

He added: "Paddy was a bit frightened to start with, but he settled down. He has never been in front of a crowd like this - perfect gentleman."

The evening celebration's line-up included Mercury Prize nominee Katy B, dance act Twist and Pulse and the University of York's gospel choir Zamar.

A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.

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