Royal Ascot 2013 got off to a thrilling start yesterday (Tuesday 18 June), with three hotly contested Group Ones as the opener to the five-day meeting.

Dawn Approach, who won the 2000 Guineas last month, was back on form taking the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes.

A photo-finish declared him the winner, just a short head in front of the the Richard Hannon-trained Toronado.

After a disappointing run at Epsom, where Dawn Approach ran out of steam in the Derby and finished last, connections took the move to drop him back in trip to 1m.

The three-year-old is trained by Jim Bolger and owned by Sheikh Mohammed and was sent off 5-4 favourite.

“That proved to me he is the best miler in the world. The biggest risk is not taking any risk,” said Sheikh Mohammed after the race.

Shock for Animal Kingdom fans

It was a good day for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien who sent out the winners of the Queen Anne Stakes (Declaration Of War) and Coventry Stakes (War Command).

But all didn’t go as expected in the Group One Queen Anne.The hotly anticipated Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom put up a poor performance to finish 11 from 13.

“He didn’t put much effort in. It was not him at all,” said jockey Johnny Velazquez.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” added British born trainer Graham Motion who is now based in the States. The horse, who also won the 2011 Kentucky Derby, has now been retired.

Leading jumps owner scores

Top National Hunt duo Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus celebrated after Well Sharp provided them with a Royal Ascot winner. Carrying the colours of JP McManus and ridden by Fran Berry, Well Sharp won the 2m4f Ascot Stakes.

In the final race trainer Olly Stevens made his Royal Ascot wins one from one start when 16-1 shot Extortionist won the Windsor Castles Stakes. And it provided jockey Johnny Murtagh with his second win of the day, having been in the winner’s enclosure earlier with the Edward Lynam-trained Sole Power in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes.

People watching

The Royal Family was out in force and the Royal procession was well-attended, followed by a poignant minute of silence in memory of Sir Henry Cecil

The Queen, who was wearing pink, was accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, as well as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Princess Anne was also in attendance.

And many celebrities enjoyed a day at the races including opera singer Katherine Jenkins, former footballer Gary Lineker and Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli.