The Duke puts his top hat away for another year

You can put away the top hat for another season, as this year’s Royal Ascot has been and gone.

However, many of the performances will be talked about for some time. One of my highlights of the week was when ITV’s Brian Gleeson said to Sheikh Mohammed (owner of Godolphin), “you love the game, don’t you”. That really made me smile.

Brian Gleeson is such a likeable chap who loves racing so much that he felt totally at ease just speaking to another man about horses. The fact that the other man is Ruler of Dubai and one of the most powerful men in the world was to Brian, it seems, not as fascinating as the fact he had Ribchester (Queen Anne winner) and Barney Roy (St James’s Palace Stakes winner).

Course records were smashed due to the lightning quick ground.

Royal Ascot is probably about as traditionally English as you get from a sporting event, perhaps along with Wimbledon and the FA Cup Final. So it was rather a surprise to everyone that the weather held out across the week, with very un-English like scorching temperatures.

Highland Reel might sound Scottish by name, but was very much a party for the Irish in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. The Gold Cup went the way of Big Orange, squeezing out Order Of St George to the flag.

Group 1s on Friday went to Caravaggio and Winter. Caravaggio maintains his unbeaten record and in most yards he would already be the best horse. But, much like Winter, there’s plenty of talent to contest with in the Ballydoyle yard.

The final Group 1 on Saturday was won by The Tin Man for the significantly smaller yard of James Fanshawe and a welcome return to the big time for Tom Queally. The jockey faded away from the limelight shortly after Frankel’s retirement, but he retains plenty of ability in the saddle. I would very much like to see him come back to the fore and contest for the big rides in the big races, but then perhaps everything seems a disappointment after you’ve ridden Frankel.

Either way, the win of The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with Tasleet and Limato just in behind has set up what could be a series of brilliant sprint races over the summer. If you add Caravaggio in to create a sprinting quartet, then it will be a joy to watch. Royal Ascot itself seemed to sprint by, but as we head away from the Berkshire track, we have a lot to look forward to in the second half of the Flat season.

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