While The Queen was arriving at Ascot for the first day of the Royal meeting yesterday, European racing’s other great lady was dancing round the pre-parade ring with impatience. Her ears flicked to and fro as she curvetted from side to side.
It was almost as though Goldikova resented the crowd switching their concentration away from her — “I’m the star of this meeting. Don’t you realise they’ve all come to see me?”
And to Paco Boy: “Enjoy walking in front of me, mon cher — it’s the only time you’ll be ahead of me today.”
The French mare, now five years old, certainly lived up to her billing. Sent to the front miles out, she only held off Paco Boy by a neck, but Olivier Peslier, super-cool as ever, hardly tapped her with the whip to win her ninth Group One race.
Goldikova’s Queen Anne Stakes win was the opener on a truly splendid card — three Group Ones, bang bang bang, then merely the premier two-year-old race for this time of the season.
Canford Cliffs followed up his Irish 2000 Guineas success with victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes, the third race of six and therefore nominally the feature of the day, which meant that Richard Hannon and his son-in-law jockey Richard Hughes won a Group One, a Group Two (the Coventry with Strong Suit) and finished second with Paco Boy. That should pay the hat bill for Mrs Hannon and Mrs Hughes for the week.
But Goldikova, truly a queen of her breed, made her Ascot debut in the very finest style. The plan is to attempt a third Breeders’ Cup Mile win with her this November. Start saving for your plane ticket to America — don’t let her retire without having seen her. Much is made about jump racing’s enduring heroes — the Flat has them too. Their flame burns for a briefer time, but at its best it is blinding.