Thousands of racegoers, and the sunshine, turned out for our Victoria Cup Raceday on Saturday and they were treated to a feast of top-class racing.
Our last meeting before Royal Ascot gets underway in under six weeks’ time belonged to jockey James Doyle who claimed a hat-trick of successes.
However, it was Jamie Spencer who took the spoils in the day’s feature on board Speculative Bid, who could now return for the Royal Meeting next month.
The 10-1 shot stretched his unbeaten record in 2015 to three with victory in the Totescoop6 Victoria Cup.
Spencer uncorked his strong-travelling mount to go clear inside the distance, before readily holding the staying on Lincoln by half a length. The pair were two and a quarter lengths clear of Hawkeyethenoo in third.
Trainer David Elsworth admitted after the race that he hasn’t been the easiest horse to work with, but his decision to run on drying ground proved to be a sound one and Royal Ascot is firmly in his sights.
"He's had problems, issues with his soundness and the ground was definitely a concern,” said Elsworth.
"He went wrong last year on Polytrack, but had done well on the surface this season. I knew he would go on the ground today, but the reason I let him run was that it was a big pot.
"We'll have to see how he is and maybe think about coming back for the Royal Hunt Cup."
The first of Doyle’s three victories came in the day’s opener on board favourite Penhill.
However, The Luca Cumani-trained gelding didn’t have it all his own way as he wandered inside the final furlong, just holding off the challenge of New Year's Night in second.
Agent Murphy stayed on strongly, asserting himself inside the final furlong to forge clear in winning the listed Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes.
"I expected Agent Murphy to run well,” commented jockey Jimmy Fortune. “He's an ever improving and a nice type."
It was Doyle, for trainer Roger Charlton, who triumphed in the Garrard Fillies' Handicap with Temptress, and the 27-year-old was back in the Winners’ Enclosure in our penultimate race, the Totepool Racing's Biggest Supporter Maiden Stakes.
Goldophin’s two-year-old colt Steady Pace certainly belied his name as he ran on strongly in an impressive performance.
Finally, 17-year-old Tom Marquand took to Twitter to express his delight at closing the day with victory on board 20-1 shot Childesplay.
“Unbelievable to ride my first winner at Ascot”, commented Marquand on the social media platform. The manner of the win suggests we might be seeing more of this apprentice in the years to come.