Royal Ascot: 5 things we learned on final day of an extraordinary week
If your name wasn’t Frankie or Kevin on day five at Royal Ascot, you were probably out of luck – we reflect on the final afternoon of a meeting like no other:
Frankie Dettori said he had “conquered” Royal Ascot after Alpine Star gave him a first Coronation Stakes win, to complete a full house of Group Ones at the meeting. Dettori claimed three victories to end the meeting on a total of 73 Royal Ascot winners during his illustrious career, equalling the tally of Pat Eddery and ensuring he was once again top jockey for the week, edging Jim Crowley by virtue of more second places after they finished on six wins each. He may be closing in on 50, but Dettori remains a potent force.
Kevin Stott may have been deemed too small for professional football, but Tottenham’s loss is racing’s gain as the young rider enjoyed a breakthrough afternoon in his career. Hello Youmzain gave him a first Group One strike in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes before he followed up with Wokingham glory on Hey Jonesy. Trainer Kevin Ryan also deserves plenty of praise and this could be a combination that is going places.
The international challenge at this year’s Royal meeting was slightly weakened by the current world health crisis, but Wesley Ward’s decision to bring another squad to the fixture finally paid dividends with Campanelle’s victory in the Queen Mary Stakes. That was Ward’s 11th Royal Ascot win, but credit should also go to fellow American handler Graham Motion, whose audacious bid for Coronation Stakes glory with Sharing only just fell short.
No fireworks, but not finished
Pinatubo fell just short on his retrieval mission in the St James’s Palace Stakes, but it would be folly to write him off as a one-season wonder just yet. Heading into the campaign as the highest-rated juvenile in 25 years, the Godolphin colt always had more to lose than gain this term. He may not have been able to make amends for his 2000 Guineas defeat here, but the fact John Gosden, trainer of winner Palace Pier, is eager to avoid a Goodwood rematch underpins the theory that Pinatubo is anything but a spent force.
No crowds? No worries!
Coronavirus restrictions resulted in the bare minimum of people on track and while the meeting certainly was not the Royal Ascot we know and love, it also was far from a disappointment. The quality of the on-track action was not impinged in the slightest and it was just as thrilling for those watching at home. Huge credit must go to Ascot for putting on a top-drawer show in the most testing of circumstances.