Colour, speed, glamour, excitement — Royal Ascot has it all.
If the first day’s racing was dominated by favourites, yesterday’s theme was rather different, with some long-priced horses clinching top three placings.
The finish of the day came in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, when Frankie Dettori, and Godolphin’s Rewilding reeled in the hugely fancied Antipodean horse So You Think to win the big race by a head. Frankie may be 40 now, but he responded with the euphoria of a apprentice winning his first race. The stewards (sensitive to this issue, perhaps, after recent events?) were less euphoric, awarding him a nine-day ban for excessive use of the whip in the final two furlongs.
Aside from the racing (and let’s face it, quite a portion of Ascot’s crowds barely know there is any), Ascot oozed all its usual glamour. Having received a kind invitation to have a drink in the Ascot Authority box from Ascot’s chief executive, I had the fun of a prime view of the winner’s post and mingled with some great racing names, and other personalities.
My spouse nearly swooned at the sight of England cricketer Matthew Vaughn. Motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart was there to make one winner’s presentation, and — for an injection of youthful good looks — “Strictly’s” Welsh waltzer Gethin Jones…
The conversations around the racing are half the fun of the day. At a pre-racing lunch I met Andrew Parker Bowles and was reminded of the role he played setting up the now burgeoning RoR organisation (Retraining of Racehorses). I met Brook Johnson, who was for years patron of the C S Brooks polo team. I congratulated Cheltenham chairman, and Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association former chairman, Robert Waley-Cohen on an incredible year (I’m assuming you don’t need reminding about who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup…), and even exchanged a few words with a gold-coated Princess Royal — another prolific and hard-working equestrian patron.
And to crown a fantastic day, I even managed to drive home within 40 minutes of watching the last race. Too bad it’s my only day there this year. Roll on June 2012…
Don’t miss H&H full Royal Ascot report in next week’s issue, out 23 June.