James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man produced a moment that connections will remember forever after winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day of the Royal meeting.
The five-year-old, who was victorious in the Group One QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes on Champions Day last year, utilised his handy position on the rail to full advantage as Tom Queally guided him to perfection to beat Tasleet and Limato in a close finish.
The Tin Man’s victory was a first Group One victory at the Royal meeting for Queally since the great Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes in 2012.
In the Hardwicke Stakes, Aidan O’Brien recorded his 60th Royal winner with Idaho - a galant victor from Barsanti and Chemical Charge.
With Ryan Moore riding Her Majesty The Queen’s Dartmouth, it was Seamie Heffernan that showcased his skills in the saddle with a superb win.
Meanwhile it was Moore that partnered O’Brien’s earlier winner - September - in the Chesham Stakes.
Her brilliant display to comfortably beat her rivals has secured her place at the top the ante post markets for next year’s British Classics.
In the fiercely-competitive Wokingham, David O’Meara trained Out Do to a 25/1 triumph, while Snoano - also at the same price produced the goods in the Wolverton Handicap.
The final race of the 2017 meeting was won by Mark Johnston’s Oriental Fox, with the double-seeking Thomas Hobson narrowly missing out.
The eighth and final Group One race of Royal Ascot is the six furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes, one of the most important sprint races in the world.
The best of Europe’s sprinters line up including last year’s July Cup winner Limato, who will have the quick ground he appreciates and didn’t encounter last time out in the Al Quoz sprint in Dubai when down the field.
In front on that evening in Dubai were the winner, The Right Man, for France, and runner-up Long On Value, for the USA. Both run tomorrow afternoon, the latter being particularly exciting as he is a first runner at Royal Ascot for top American trainer, Bill Mott.
There is significant strength in depth in the race, including 2016 QIPCO British Champions Sprint (course and distance) winner, The Tin Man, and recent Group Two Duke of York Stakes winner and runner-up, Tasleet and Magical Memory.
The main support race is the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes over a mile-and-a-half for four-year-olds and up. The race has unusual conditions in that Group One winners go unpenalised – by which is meant that winners of Group One races carry the same weight as those that haven’t won at that level. This concession was made to the race to encourage Group One winners to run in Royal Ascot’s premier mile-and-a-half race and provide as best a trial opportunity as possible for horses who are targeting the Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes over course and distance next month, such as last year’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner, My Dream Boat.
Of course all eyes will be on The Queen’s Dartmouth, who will be a worthy favourite to win the Hardwicke for a second time after his recent win in a Group Two race at York last month. That was over a mile-and-three-quarters and he only got on top late so there may be a slight question mark over his speed for this trip now, but he very much sets the standard in the race.
Idaho represents Coolmore in the race and this is a horse for whom absolutely nothing has gone right in his last three runs but is considered to be potentially top class. Last September, he was travelling smoothly as odds on favourite in the St Leger only to stumble and unseat his rider. Then in Canada, perhaps the long distance travel affected him, again as favourite, where Dartmouth was in front of him. Last time out in the Group One Coronation Cup at Epsom, he lost all chance to show his best when his flight was delayed. He never looked happy with so little time to be prepared for the race on arrival. It is very interesting that the powerful Aidan O’Brien stable rely only on him tomorrow.
The Chesham over seven furlongs for two-year-olds opens proceedings and Coolmore’s September is likely to be a warm favourite. The Wolferton is next up, and is a fascinating renewal of this Listed handicap over 10 furlongs. There is a very strong word for the relatively unexposed Chester winner, Khairaat in a race that features a runner for the Prince Of Wales and The Duchess Of Cornwall, in Pacify.
The Wokingham Handicap opens an unofficial triple crown of the highest profile six furlong handicaps in Britain, leading into the Stewards’ Cup and Goodwood and Ayr Gold Cup. A full field of sprinters will line up as ever, and it is wide open.
Royal Ascot comes to an end with the traditional final race of the meeting, the much loved Queen Alexandra Stakes, at two-and-three-quarter miles the longest race of the week.
Although not a Pattern or Listed race, or indeed a feature handicap, it has, in recent years begun to attract a much higher calibre of horse than once was the case. This year’s renewal may be the best yet, with last year’s Derby runner-up US Army Ranger remarkably lining up. The powerful Godolphin operation, who have had such a fabulous week, run Qewy and Thomas Hobson, who won the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday, lines up again.
It is an intriguing renewal of the Queen Alexandra Stakes and a fitting end to what has been a wonderful week’s racing.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore teamed up together for a superb Group One double in the Commonwealth Cup and Coronation Stakes as Caravaggio and Winter produced the goods.
Winter, who had already won the 1000 Guineas double this season, was a cosy victor of the fillies’ three-year-old mile contest - showcasing her dominance in the division in impressive style.
Stable mates Roly Poly and Hydrangea finished second and third, respectively, to give the Ballydoyle outfit a superb 1-2-3.
In equally impressive fashion, Caravaggio displayed why he could be the outstanding sprinter of recent times as he maintained his 100% career record with a striking success over Harry Angel and Blue Point.
Moore, with work to do, produced the son of Scat Daddy - who had his fourth Royal Ascot winner of the week - in the closing stages of the contest with a commanding performance.
Caravaggio’s success was the horse’s second Royal winner, after winning last year’s Coventry Stakes.
Meanwhile, in the King Edward VII Stakes, Mark Johnston’s Permian put a disappointing Derby display behind him with a taking win in the one and a half-mile race under the skilful ride of jockey William Buick.
In the Albany Stakes, Different League showed that he was just that as he fended off the challenge of the favourite Alpha Centauri to win for France.
The Queen’s Vase went the way of John Gosden-trained Stradivarius after a thrilling finish with Count Octave, while Godolphin added another to their tally for the week with Rare Rhythm in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes.
Whilst always a tremendous card, it wasn’t so long ago that the Friday of the Royal Meeting was perceived to be the lesser of the five days.
That has all changed now. Since the inception of the Commonwealth Cup in 2015, Friday is now arguably the second best day of the week with two Group One races.
The Commonwealth Cup was introduced at Group One level from the start to address a perceived (and subsequently proven) gap in the European calendar – a championship for three-year-old sprinters.
The two winners to date have been Muhaarar and Quiet Reflection, who went on to prove themselves against their elders and in the case of the former, become Europe’s Champion Sprinter.
This year’s renewal is arguably the best to date, with Godolphin represented by Pavilion Stakes (the premier trial for this over course and distance) first and second Blue Point and Harry Angel. Interestingly, the former always carried the famous blue colours but so impressed were Godolphin with the runner-up, who was conceding weight, that they immediately stepped in to purchase him too. All the colts in tomorrow’s race carry the same weight.
The quality doesn’t stop there – in fact Godolphin don’t have the favourite. That honour goes to Coolmore’s Caravaggio, who blitzed his rivals, again over course and distance, in last year’s Coventry Stakes. His season was cut short last year but he was back with a bang at Naas recently and is already being talked about as a potential Champion Sprinter.
If that isn’t enough, Wesley Ward is ebullient in his admiration for Bound For Nowhere, who is stepping up in class considerably but has looked full of potential.
The traditional highlight of the card, and as good a renewal as you could ask for, is the Coronation Stakes, the mile championship race for three-year-old fillies following the European Guineas.
True to that billing, Winter heads the market and will be odds on having won the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas and Irish equivalent easily. That hasn’t scared off the French 1,000 Guineas winner, Precieuse, though, and nor has it dissuaded Mark Casse, winner of the Queen Anne last year with Tepin, from bringing another potential star over the Atlantic in La Coronel. After a hugely impressive win in the Group Three Appalachian Stakes in April, she overcame a bad draw and wide trip throughout to win another Group Three race much more impressively than the form book will tell you, on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
The Albany (Group Three), over six furlongs for two-year-old fillies, opens the card with Alpha Centauri for Jessie Harrington likely to be a strong favourite.
The King Edward VII Stakes (Group Two), over a mile-and-a-half for three-year-old colts attracts horses that have run in the Derby, such as Permian (the York Dante winner), Khalidi, Glencadam Glory, and Best Solution.
However, it is likely that those who were considered not quite ready for Epsom will head the market, principally Crystal Ocean and potentially Sir John Lavery, whose run in the Lingfield Derby Trial was too bad to be true. He is clearly highly regarded.
The Queen’s Vase has been promoted from Listed status to Group Two this year and will start in front of the stands, as the distance has been reduced from two miles to a mile-and-a-three-quarters. In tandem with its promotion, a quality field of potential Goodwood Cup and St Leger three-year-olds have been declared.
The closing race is the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap over a mile-and-a-half in which The Queen’s Mainstream has a very good chance of providing her with victory in the race named in honour of her husband.
The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange produced a display of guts and sheer determination to see off the late challenge from 2016 champion Order Of St George to win one of the best finishes to a Gold Cup in recent years.
Winning by a nose, the six-year-old was sent to the front early by jockey James Doyle as the field turned into the home straight before staying on resolutely to claim a famous victory at the Royal meeting.
Bell, elated in the aftermath, said: "I can't give the horse enough credit. It was an epic race. I can't describe the feeling of pride in the horse. I was praying for the line. He's a superstar and we're extremely lucky to train him."
Big Orange’s win was the second success of the week for Doyle, who rode Barney Roy to success in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Earlier on the day, Coronet - in an equally close finish - repelled the charge of the regally-bred Mori to win the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes.
Coronet’s success - at a starting price of 9/1 - was the first of the week for handler John Gosden and French rider Olivier Peslier.
In the Hampton Court Stakes, Godolphin’s superb Royal Ascot continued as this year’s Derby form was boosted by the superb performance from Benbatl.
Ridden by Oisin Murphy - his first Royal winner - the three-year-old was sent to the front in the closing stages to assert his dominance before staying on tenaciously from the well-supported Orderofthegarter.
However, it wasn’t all bad news for the Coolmore team as their Sioux Nation got up to win the Norfolk Stakes in an expected tight affair.
In the final two races, Qatar Racing enjoyed a first win at the 2017 meeting with Bless Him in the Britannia Stakes while Godolphin’s Atty Persse provided the great Frankel with his first Royal winner in the King George V Stakes.
Inaugurated in 1807, the Gold Cup is Royal Ascot’s oldest and best loved race.
Run over the marathon trip of two-and-a-half miles at Group One level, it is a unique test of stamina in Britain at the highest level.
Order Of St George, representing the Coolmore team who sent out Yeats to win the great race in four successive occasions, bids to repeat last year’s win.
Very much like Yeats, he isn’t invincible, but the way he won last year suggests he may have the same hallmarks as Yeats in that he just seems to come alive at over the extreme trip which he only faces once a year.
Principle amongst the opposition is the popular Big Orange, twice a winner of the Goodwood Cup over two miles. If as effective over the longer trip, he is a serious danger to the favourite.
A cracking field of 14 in all line up, including Torcedor for Jessie Harrington, who actually beat a rusty looking Order Of St George earlier in the year, last year’s St Leger winner Harbour Law and previous Gold Cup winner, Trip To Paris.
The Group One Norfolk Stakes for speedy two year old colts over the minimum trip of five furlongs opens the show. After two days of Royal Ascot, Wesley Ward leads the trainers table with two winners and a second and his McErin is strongly fancied tomorrow afternoon.
The Hampton Court Stakes (Group Three) features an interesting group of three year olds just below Derby standard, some of which ran in the Derby trials. This is also two furlongs shorter than the Derby so attracts horses that missed the Derby looking for a less extreme trip, such as Benbatl and Mirage Dancer.
The Ribblesdale is a Group Two race for fillies over the Oaks trip and can either be a quick opportunity for horses that ran at Epsom to bounce back, such as this year’s Oaks fifth, Coronet. More often as not though it is won by later developing horses that missed Epsom and have the Irish Oaks on their radar. In that respect Goodwood Height Of Fashion Stakes winner Mori very much fits the bill.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore posted their first success as a partnership at Royal Ascot 2017 in fine style as Highland Reel powered his way to victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Day Two of the Royal meeting.
The five-year-old, who won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last season, was up wth the pace from the outset before commanding the race in the closing stages to register another career Group One triumph.
The son of supersize Galileo is now a solid favourite to back-up his Prince of Wales’s Stakes success by winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes later this summer back here at Ascot.
Highland Reel was followed home by Decorated Knight and Ulysses, respectively.
In the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, it was France’s Qemah that sealed a Royal Ascot double after being given an expert ride by Gregory Benoist.
Last year’s Coronation Stakes heroine demonstrated her class with a superb display to win by a comfortable margin.
There was also French success in the opening race of the day - the Jersey Stakes - as Le Brivido produced a brilliant performance to win the Group Three contest.
The three-year-old, who is trained by Gallic master Andre Fabre, ran on strongly in the closing stages under the ride of Pierre-Charles Boudot to win by a small margin.
Meanwhile in the Queen Mary Stakes, the Clive Cox-trained Heartache repelled the challenge of the well-fancied Wesley Ward juvenile Happy Like A Fool to land the Group Two spoils.
In the Royal Hunt Cup, the contest very much lived up to its billing as one of the most competitive races of the season as 25/1 shot Zhui Feng narrowly held on under Martin Dwyer.
Minor placings - fought out by Blair House and Tashweeq - were separated by a blanket finish of less than a length, while Ballet Concerto took fourth.
The final race of the day - the Sandringham Handicap Stakes - was won by the Wesley Ward-trained Con Te Partiro.
The feature race on day two of Royal Ascot is the Group One Prince of Wales’s Stakes – the most valuable race of the week with £750,000 in prize money and arguably the most important.
The vagaries of flat racing are nowhere better illustrated than in the make up of the field for this year’s race. A month or so back, it looked like being a showdown between QIPCO British Champions Day winners Almanzor and Minding. Setbacks have intervened there but the beauty of the sport is the strength in depth at the big European stables and Highland Reel, last year’s King George winner, has been called up from the Coolmore subs bench to replace Minding whilst chief rival’s Godolphin have decided to run arguably their organisation’s star act, Jack Hobbs.
Not only does this result in one of the races of the week but it provides added intrigue as the best form of both, to date, is over a mile-and-a-half and today’s race is over a mile-and-a-quarter.
It is far from a two horse race. Sir Michael Stoute sends both Gordon Richards Stakes winner, Ulysses, and 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner, Queen’s Trust. France is represented by recent Group One Prix D’Ispahan winner, Mekhtaal.
The Group Three Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs for three year olds opens proceedings. This race offers a valuable opportunity for horses stepping back in trip after the Guineas, as is the case for Daban (third in the 1,000 Guineas) and Dream Castle (fifth in the 2,000 Guineas), as well as late developers who may have missed Newmarket.
The Group Two Queen Mary Stakes is Ascot’s most important race for two-year-old fillies and has been won twice by Wesley Ward, successful yesterday with Lady Aurelia in the King’s Stand Stakes. His Happy Like A Fool has been spoken of as possibly his best two-year-old of the week.
The Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes over the straight mile is the fillies’ Queen Anne. Last year’s winner Usherette was supplemented for the race at the beginning of the week and lines up against, amongst others, last year’s Coronation Stakes winner, Qemah. In what is a Group One race in all but name, recent impressive winners Mix And Mingle and Laugh Aloud will be strongly fancied, stepping up in class now.
The Royal Hunt Cup is one the country’s most loved handicaps – 30 horses on the straight mile and gambles wherever you look. Luca Cumani’s stable can never be overlooked in these affairs and there is confidence behind his pair of Banksea and El Vip, whilst the name on everyone’s lips in recent days has been Abe Lincoln, for Jeremy Noseda. Being able to run up either rail can be a benefit in these races and Abe Lincoln is drawn on the stands rail.
In the first year that we are running an owners’ competition alongside the traditional jockeys and trainers tables, Godolphin got off to a real flyer yesterday with three wins, including two Group Ones.
It was Barney Roy that stole the show on the opening day of Royal Ascot as the St James’s Palace Stakes battle between the Godolphin-owned colt and Coolmore’s superstar miler, Churchill, went the way of the Richard Hannon-trained three-year-old.
With both looking to reel in the pacemakers in the closing stages of the contest, it was Barney Roy that finished stronger, with Lancaster Bomber in second and Thunder Snow in third.
The result was the cherry on top of the cake for owners Godolphin, who had earlier success on the day in the Queen Anne Stakes with Ribchester.
Last year’s Jersey Stakes victor had to work hard for the Group One triumph, but did so in style as Mutakayyef and Deauville finished in second and third, respectively.
It was a case of another year, another Royal Ascot winner for American trainer Wesley Ward as his superstar filly Lady Aurelia produced another superb display at the Royal meeting - this time in the King’s Stand Stakes.
The three-year-old, who cruised to success in last year’s Queen Mary Stakes, put up another dominant performance by casting aside her rivals to claim the prestigious Sprint crown from last year’s winner Profitable and the well-fancied Marsha.
Royal Ascot might well have witnessed a star of the future in the Coventry Stakes, as Rajasinghe stayed on strongly to see off the challenge of the Royal Ascot Racing Club-owned Headway.
A son of Choisir - a famous winner of the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes at the same Royal meeting in 2003 - was rated prominently for next season’s British Classics next season.
In the Ascot Stakes, National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins showed his versatility by saddling Thomas Hobson to a classy runaway success under Ryan Moore, while Godlphin sealed a hat-trick of wins on the day with Sound And Silence winning the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Trainer Richard Fahey described Ribchester as the best horse he has ever trained after the Godolphin-owned colt landed the G1 Queen Anne Stakes, the first race of Royal Ascot 2017, in a track record time of 1m 36.60s
Settled in fifth in the early stages of the mile contest by William Buick under a stern gallop set by Ribchester's pacemaker Toscanini, the four-year-old son of Iffraaj ran on resolutely when hitting the front over a furlong out to fend off the challenge of William Haggas' Mutakayyef (5/1), who was a length and a quarter behind in second, with a neck back to Aidan O'Brien's Deauville (12/1) in third.
Despite taking a slight drift in the market, the 11/10 favourite found plenty for pressure to register his third success at Group One level, whilst simultaneously providing Fahey with his sixth success at the Royal Meeting.
A delighted Fahey said: "I'm just delighted he has won. You can never be confident but everything dropped into place there. He has huge gears and he is never in trouble. He gets the trip and that makes him a good horse.
"It wasn't really the plan to go that quick with Toscanini [pacemaker] and I did tell Paul [Hanagan, jockey] to bounce out this time. He more or less took off and probably didn't lead Ribchester far enough.
"Look Ribchester is just an exceptional horse. He has to be the best horse I have ever trained. He broke the track record here today and that's not being disrespectful to the others, but he is just exceptional.
"It was a good pressure coming into the race as he was the right horse to have the pressure on. I was quietly confident that he would win as everything was good with him before the race - I'm in a happy place.
"He gets lonely out in front sometimes. I don't think it is pressure and he just went walkabouts.
"William doesn't feel that the tank is empty with him and that he is getting stronger the whole time. Mentally, he is also getting better which is a great attitude to have in a racehorse - he is starting to think he is good."
Day One of Royal Ascot is widely acknowledged to be amongst the best racing days anywhere in the world with three Group One races and Ascot’s premier two-year-old race, the Group Two Coventry Stakes.
The Group One Queen Anne Stakes is for older horses over the straight mile. Recent Lockinge Stakes winner, Ribchester, will be a very short price, probably odds-on, to add to his Newbury win. Amongst the chief opposition are last year’s Summer Mile winner, Mutakayyef and Lightning Spear, the Newbury runner-up. Both will enjoy the quick ground as indeed will the two American runners, Miss Temple City, running at Ascot for the third year running, and American Patriot, for Todd Pletcher. The trainer is coming to the Royal Meeting on the back of victories in two of the three Triple Crown races in the US this year – the Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming and the Belmont Stakes with Tapwrit.
An international array of jockeys will be on display in the opener including Edgar Prado for the US, Stephane Pasquier for France and Michelle Payne, the first and only lady rider to win the Melbourne Cup, for Australia.
The Group One King’s Stand Stakes is all about whether last year’s devastatingly impressive Queen Mary Stakes winner, Lady Aurelia, can repeat the dose over the same course and distance this year. Wesley Ward’s electric three-year-old filly is the mount of Frankie Dettori, who will be riding for him all week and indeed partners American-trained American Patriot for Todd Pletcher’s US stable in the opener.
It won’t be straightforward for the filly, however, with the likes of former race winner Goldream and recent impressive French winner, Signs Of Blessing, in the field.
The Group One St James’s Palace Stakes, on the round course, usually confirms champion three-year-old miler status and after victories in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas and Irish equivalent, Churchill lines up against the Newmarket runner-up, Barney Roy, in what is being billed as a head to head for category supremacy. Barney Roy appeared to be slightly unlucky in the 2,000 Guineas and it’ll be fascinating to see whether he can get any closer on Tuesday.
The Coventry looks wide open this year, and it’ll be interesting to see Wesley Ward’s first two-year-old of the week, Arawak, in action. De Bruyne Horse will have his supporters after an impressive win on Derby Day.
There are three long distance races at Royal Ascot, as defined by being two miles or over, the first of which is the Ascot Stakes (handicap). The great thing about this race is that it gives an opportunity for trainers who operate principally over jumps to get on the Royal Ascot scoresheet. The yards of David Pipe, Willie Mullins, Alan King, Nicky Henderson and, very unusually, Paul Nicholls, all have runners today.
The Windsor Castle Stakes closes the card. It is a Listed race for horses just below the level we will to see in the Norfolk Stakes later in the week, also over five furlongs for two-year-olds. Ward fires two arrows in this one.
Our showpiece meeting, with the very best racing, fashion and pageantry is an occasion “like nowhere else.” This year we have publicised our unique fixture with a hand-crafted globe, the imagery from which features on the front of this media guide and within these pages. In February, the globe was unveiled at the Goring Hotel, and since then it has been touring various London institutions before coming back to us.
It is on display in the Grandstand and I do hope you will enjoy looking for your favourite Royal Ascot memories on it. The globe celebrates legends old and new, equine and human, including Ryan Moore, whose nine winners achieved at 2015’s Royal Meeting are an all-time record. Ryan is also synonymous with the greatest Royal winner at Royal Ascot – The Queen’s Estimate in the 2013 Gold Cup. Such was the impact of that historic win, that the Royal Mail have this year included Estimate in the collection of eight legendary racehorses for their special stamps collection.
Other horses featured on those stamps were: Frankel, Red Rum, Shergar, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, Brigadier Gerard and Arkle. Red Rum is the odd one out – the only one not to have won at Ascot! New here this year is the Village Enclosure in the centre of the track. The first new enclosure to open at Royal Ascot for more than 100 years. It operates from Thursday to Saturday - our busiest days. As well as providing something new and vibrant – it stays open until 9p.m with music after racing - this also enhances customer comfort across our whole site, as we have reduced capacity in two of our other enclosures.
There will be 4,500 racegoers in the Village Enclosure. Fine Dining, like racing and fashion, is synonymous with Royal Ascot and we welcome back Raymond Blanc, Phil Howard and Angela Hartnett to our restaurants. We also welcome, for the first time, James Tanner, who will be presiding over the new Queen Anne Lawn facility, Queen Anne Kitchens, another enhancement for visitors to our premier public enclosure. This year we run 19 Group Races on our 30-race programme, with the significant promotion of the Queen’s Vase from Listed status to Group Two.
Following the successful introduction of our three-year-olds’ championship sprint here in 2015 - The Commonwealth Cup - the racing industry has now worked on strengthening the long-distance category. The two highlight changes are the creation of a truly meaningful early season target for three-year-old stayers this week - the Queen’s Vase - and the promotion of the Goodwood Cup to Group One status in just over a month’s time. We are delighted to be a part of the programme for preserving and rewarding stamina in the thoroughbred.
Johnny Weatherby, Her Majesty’s Representative
In light of recent tragic events around Britain, Ascot announces that Royal Ascot will open with a mark of respect.
Following the arrival of Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Party in the Parade Ring tomorrow, a minute’s silence will be observed across the racecourse.
Ascot Racecourse is making a donation of £100,000 to The British Red Cross UK Solidarity and London Fire Relief Funds and Local Charities, to support those affected.
Exit collections on all five days of Royal Ascot will be available to enable racegoers to contribute.
Johnny Weatherby, Chairman of Ascot Racecourse, said: "We have all been deeply saddened by recent tragic events around the country.
"At the beginning of this important week for racing, we at Ascot Racecourse wish to pay our respects to the victims and offer support to the families who have been so terribly affected."
It was one of horse racing’s greatest rivalries – the enduring and engrossing duel for supremacy contested by Sir Michael Stoute and the late Sir Henry Cecil. From theirrespective stables in Newmarket, the two men almost seemed to have a monopoly on the British trainers’ championship through the 1980s and 1990s. Sir Henry, who died in 2013, claimed the title on no less than 10 occasions – a tally matched in 2009 by Sir Michael.
Another record the pair share is that they have both recorded 75 Royal Ascot winners, an extraordinary feat given the ruthlessly competitive nature of racing at the globally renowned five-day meeting. “Henry had a wonderful record at Ascot … one year he had seven winners,” says Sir Michael. “A formidable trainer, one of the greatest of all time – he had such a feel for horses. Gifted … very gifted.” Stoute also recalls, with a smile, that his great rival – famous for his style and charisma – was seriously competitive. “Nevermind the outward appearance; he was a fierce competitor, H.R.A Cecil!” Takes one to know one, don’t they say? Stoute has proved as tough-as-teak over the decades. You don’t achieve all he has done in his own illustrious career without blending steeliness alongside intelligence and a sure touch.
Stoute reached that total of 75 Royal Ascot winners last year, thanks to the victory of The Queen’s horse Dartmouth in the Hardwicke Stakes. It was the latest in a series of golden days for the 71-yearold Barbadian at the Royal Meeting – and yet it wasn’t always the case, as he reveals. “We had our first winner in 1977 – I started in 1972.
People kept on banging away at me ‘When are you going to have a winner here?’ So it was a big relief to get Etienne Gerard. Obviously, you never forget your first one.” While that was Stoute’s initial success at the Royal Meeting, he had first attended, aged 20, in 1966.
Working for Yorkshire-based trainer Pat Rohan as a pupil-assistant, he travelled down with a fancied runner for the King’s Stand. The horse didn’t perform as connections hoped, but Stoute still recalls his excitement at going to Royal Ascot – a feeling that has never left him. “It becomes more and more special because I think it’s becoming more international,” he says. “And it’s the whole pageantry of the thing. It starts with the Royal Procession and the visitors love it, but so do the indigenous people.”
Royal Ascot is always a major priority for Stoute, who trains from the historic Freemason Lodge – home to so many equine superstars through the decades. The planning starts months before, although not quite as early as at one Newmarket yard, where a trainer once told me he jotted down his Ascot hopefuls while the Christmas tree was still up! “He was more forward-thinking than I am,” says Stoute with a grin. “I think it starts to happen when you get them moving again at the start of the flat season. “You are looking at the team from early on in the season, looking at potential Royal Ascot runners – like Cheltenham with the jumps boys.
When you finalise it, the staff really love taking a horse there.” The thrill of being associated with a Royal Ascot runner is trumped by only one thing – the unbeatable glow of standing alongside a winner during the week itself. Each race requires a special performance to win it and nothing can be taken for granted, such is the quality of the opposition. It’s why Stoute’s tally of 75 successes is so remarkable. modest assessment. “It’s a good achievement by men and horses.”
Stoute feels all of the victories are special (“because the owners so appreciate a Royal Ascot winner”). But there is one in particular that will never be forgotten – Estimate’s triumph for The Queen in the 2013 Gold Cup. Estimate raised the roof in winning for her owner, whose delight was evident as she watched a thrilling conclusion to the historic two-and-a-half mile race from her seat in the Royal Box. It was the first time the Gold Cup – inaugurated in 1807– had beenwon by a reigning monarch. “I’d have to say that Estimate’s win in the Gold Cup was a wonderful day,” recalls Sir Michael. His most special of all? “Yes, I’d think so. The crowd loved it, the owner loved it – she said afterwards that was the race she most coveted at the Royal Meeting. It’s her meeting – she adores it. She watches every race and follows them all very closely.” Reflecting on memories of other great days at Royal Ascot, Stoute scans the list of his winners and his eye falls on Shareef Dancer, who strode to glory in the 1983 King Edward VII Stakes.
“Shareef Dancer gave me a lot of pleasure when he won,” he says. “He then went and won the Irish Derby nine days later. He wasn’t only a good horse, he was a tough, very sound animal. That gave me a big thrill. But look, they all gave me a thrill.” And to prove the point he immediately goes on to talk about how the rain came just in time for Hellenic to deliver an ultimately telling performance in the 1990 Ribblesdale Stakes. In the 26 years that have followed, only three times has Stoute returned from the meeting without a winner. It’s a pointer to strongly suggest that it’s a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Sir Michael Stoute becomes Royal Ascot’s leading trainer of all time.
Spinning on its own Axis, where seas of silk lap graceful shores,
A world like nowhere else exists Where quintessential currents run and elegance and power converge,
And tales of timeless greats are spun and showstoppers emerge
A world for all to celebrate; light years away from ordinary
A world which deftly radiates its realm; and bows to the extraordinary
Where earthly rigours found outside and lived outside are left outside
And wishes wished are realised through all the finer tastes this land will grant
To let its spell enchant; to walk its walk once through those golden gilded gates
To gaze at beauty styled and beauty stitched on graceful form adorned
To know that bay imperious Horse immortalised and cast in bronze is Yeats
That headlines here accomplished render sporting moments starred
This Kingdom...smiling Green Coats kindly guard; this universe beyond three centuries old
Such elements, such pieces of a jigsaw wrought to mould this multi-coloured globe
A blazing beacon to the most majestic sport of all where heroes rise and heroes fall,
And Royal Ascot’s world stands tallest of the tall
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