Ascot is a spectacularly British affair. They say you can judge the amount of money at a race meeting by the number of helicopters landing on course; there were 400 at Ascot, and during the week, 3,000 lobsters, 7,000 crabs, 125,000 glasses of Pimms and 51,000 bottles of champagne are consumed by 280,000 people.
The presence of the Queen makes the occasion special. She mills about in the paddock watching her horses get tacked up and it’s clear she loves these animals.
Beanie, my friend who you may recall is as unlucky in love as she is at purchasing well-behaved hunters, now works as a racing secretary to one of the royal trainers in Berkshire. This year my friend’s boss got to ride in royal carriage number four one day of the meeting. Later in the day my friend’s boss won the Tercentenary Stakes, his runner demoted a horse owned by Her Majesty to second place - the closest she got to a winner all week.
That evening the trainer was set to dine with other guests back at Windsor Castle but was half expecting his carriage to drop him off at the Tower on the way. Instead the following day he had the honour of sitting in royal carriage no 1 alongside the Queen to travel to the racecourse.
This extraordinary meeting typifies the extremes found in the racing world. On Monday evening before the weeks’ racing began Goff’s Auctioneers held an exclusive Bloodstock sale at Kensington Palace for horses entered to run at the meeting. Prices topped £380,000.
Thankfully there is no need to go to such extremes, if owners are fortunate, make a shrewd purchase or just get lucky they can still live the Royal Ascot dream. Realtra ran on Wednesday for Yorkshire flat trainer Richard Fahey, bought as a yearling for £10,000, and a small gang of seven friends named the La Grange partnership were said to be ‘shell shocked’ when their inexpensive purchase ‘Trip To Paris’ ran in the 12-1 winner of the prestigious Gold Cup bagging them a huge first prize of £220,000 the following day.
It’s incredible to think how much is generated by the racing and breeding industry. My humble business may not even scratch the surface of this huge package but in our own small way we are all part of the industry’s fabric.