Racing: Fancy a royal staircase? Now's your chance

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The Independent Online

What better to lend a regal touch to your home than a pair of chromium-plated, standing ashtrays? Not just any ashtrays, mind. They will probably have been the recipients of Princess Margaret's dog-ends, originating, as they do, from the now-demolished Royal Box at Ascot racecourse.

What better to lend a regal touch to your home than a pair of chromium-plated, standing ashtrays? Not just any ashtrays, mind. They will probably have been the recipients of Princess Margaret's dog-ends, originating, as they do, from the now-demolished Royal Box at Ascot racecourse.

No? Well, how about a couple of television sets (made by Ferguson, in wooden housing) or maybe a cast-iron and brass staircase?

They're not for this commentator, thanks; but there will no doubt be many who will find such lots highly desirable when they come up at auction, together with over 300 others, on Tuesday morning.

The Royal racecourse, established in 1711 by Queen Anne, has been closed for 20 months and razed to the ground by the wrecking ball to allow for a £185m redevelopment. Many of its contents are to be rehoused within the new infrastructure, but the remainder, all part of its racing history, go under the hammer at Sotheby's, Olympia, on Tuesday. Proceeds will go to Racing Welfare, a charity providing help and support to those in the racing and breeding industry whose lives have been affected by accident, illness, age or misfortune.

The highlight of memorabilia from the grandstands, the racetrack, the Royal Box and the jockeys' weighing room will be the entranceway gates (estimate £20,000-30,000) to the winners' enclosure. It was through these that Frankie Dettori passed after completing his "Magnificent Seven". The Italian's weighing-room saddle tree (est £2,000-£3,000), preserved on its wall panel, which is signed by Pat Eddery, is another lot. Others include furlong posts, winning posts, start signs, famous race signs and information boards.

A pair of stewards' race binoculars, which somehow originated on a German U-boat, are estimated to fetch £400-£600, while the weighing room scales are expected to go for £2,000-£3,000.

Graham Budd Auctions is responsible for the sale, in conjunction with Sotheby's. For further details, phone 020 8366 2525 or visit www.grahambuddauctions.co.uk

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