For over 300 years the sport of Kings has had a royal occasion and on the 18th of June the runners and riders will again saddle up in front of the Queen for five days of competition in the world’s original extreme sport.
As the meeting kicks off on Tuesday there will be a special moment after the Royal procession arrives in the parade ring and the galleries, as a minute’s silence is observed for a horse racing legend, Sir Henry Cecil who sadly lost his fight against stomach cancer.
The history and ceremony of Royal Ascot has a reach unsurpassed by any of the major meetings of current times and is shown by the quality of the field and the riders coming from as far a field as the USA with its 2011 Kentucky Derby and this year’s Dubai World Cup champion Animal Kingdom who will be the first Kentucky Derby winner at Ascot since 1936, and South Africa with its Dubai winner Shea Shea all coming to take their place amongst the British and Irish band of elite equine specimens.
Where Royal Ascot surpasses many of its competitors in major events is its ability to put on five days of top class racing with only the best of the best being saddled for the famous occasion, from the Queen’s procession right through to Saturday’s final furlong, Ascot has something to grab a punters attention and pocket.
From the off with Tuesday’s opening race, The Queen Anne Stakes, which pits Animal Kingdom against Declaration of War as it aims to cement global success and in the St James’s Palace stakes where 2000 guineas winner and Derby flop Dawn Approach competes in a titanic battle with Irish guineas winner Magician and Toronado.
The meeting kicks off with a bang which echoes for five days around the sporting world, as it continues onto Wednesday’s Prince of Wales stakes which pits the once imperious Camelot with his recent successor in the Irish Tattersal Gold Cup Al Kazeem and impressive foe The Fugue.
The Gold Cup on Thursday, there are hopes that a second successive Ascot win for the Queen’s own horse, Estimate (after taking last year’s Queen Anne), but standing in its path is 2010 winner Rite of Passage. Although restricted since injury, has been impressive when taken to the track, also in the mix for the Gold Cup will be last year’s third place runner Saddlers Rock, although disappointing in Dubai through the spring will still pose some serious competition in what is an impressive field.
With five days of top jockeys, horses and trainers littered through the cards it promises to be a truly memorable meeting and fitting epitaph for a Royal Ascot record holder and legend Sir Henry Cecil.