The first race of the day on Ladies Day is the one to grab the attention of the paparazzi who swarm round the gates with a peculiarly outlandish hat.
Featuring anything from butterflies to bathrooms (I’m not kidding) these masterpieces of millinery are a giggle on TV — but see them in the flesh and you wonder why someone coughs up for an entrance ticket for one moment’s glory only to spend the rest of the day trying to prevent them from taking flight…
Extroverts aside, my vote for best dressed racegoers of the day was Dame Helen Mirren, who presented the trophy for the Ribblesdale and was elegant perfection in black and white; and trainer Jamie Osborne, whose grey morning suit is eye-catchingly lined in dazzling turqouise.
Fashion aside, the racing was pretty dazzling too, with Yeats unquestionably the story of the day — if not the whole meeting — when he silenced the ‘seven-year-olds don’t win The Gold Cup’ doubters (and, in fairness, supporting statistics) to do so in emphatic style for the third time on the trot. And as if to bang the message home that this theory is out of date, runner-up was another seven-year-old, Geordieland (trained by he of the turqoise lining).
There are times when a crowd gets behind a horse to win, whether their money is on it or not, because it’s an extra-brilliant horse with a chance of making history. So it was for Yeats, who was brought home with a wonderful roar, and whose whole pre and post-race demeanour was the icing on the cake. He looked a picture in the paddock, ears pricked ramrod straight, eager but unflustered, like the old pro he is.
Elsewhere races ran largely to form — John Gosden maintained his remarkable success rate in the Ribblesdale by winning it again, with Michita — apart from the Britannia Stakes Heritage Handicap which went to outsider Fifteen Love, trained by Roger Charlton.
With the going and conditions nigh on perfect for runners and racegoers, it was a superb day’s racing. Three down; two more to go…