AS THIS year’s Royal Ascot – the showpiece of Flat racing – comes to a close, Tom Richmond mulls over the big talking points ....
1. Moore the merrier
His TV interviews maybe taciturn, but this should not detract from Ryan Moore’s record-breaking haul of nine winners this week. He has earned the right to ride the best horses, for the best trainers, because of his horsemanship rather than his personality. Not everyone can be like Frankie Dettori, the renaissance rider of 2015.
2. The boys in blue
Even though Coolmore was winning the battle of the breeding empires, not least with the brilliant three-year-old miler Gleneagles, Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation is on the comeback trail and could not have two finer ambassadors in jockeys William Buick and James Doyle. They are in the job for the long-term, their eloquence is a breath of fresh air and they now have the horsepower thanks to rising stars like Mark Johnston’s Coventry Stakes winner Buratino.
3. National treasure
North Yorkshire rider Graham Lee’s winning ride in the Ascot Gold Cup on Trip To Paris marked a coming of age on the Flat for the 39-year-old who was plying his trade over jumps, and had 1,000 wins to his name, before injury prompted him to switch codes in 2012.
The winner of the 2004 Grand National, he is now a Group One-winning rider at the biggest meeting of all. Not even the greats of racing, like the aforementioned Dettori and Moore, have proved to be this versatile.
4. Kevin Ryan’s seconditis
Even though Areen, The Grey Gatsby and Ashadihan were all narrowly beaten, highlighting the sport’s fine margins, this should not detract from the Hambleton trainer’s prowess. Stable star The Grey Gatsby, one of Yorkshire’s best Flat horses ever, had no luck in running and is set to reappear in next month’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
5. Channel Four Racing’s coverage
Disappointing viewing figures – and coverage that did little to entice casual followers – offer further proof that the sport should have done more to persuade the BBC to retain its interest in racing.
The combination of Clare Balding and fashion expert Gok Wan became as predictable as it was excruciating.