Of all the showbiz celebs who swan around the Royal Enclosure this week, who do you think has the biggest entourage based on the evidence I carefully collated yesterday?
Damian Lewis? Simon Cowell? Some unknown girl from TOWIE? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I can exclusively reveal that stylist Gok Wan is the man with the biggest trail. Four bodyguards, half a dozen PR and media lackeys and a couple more unidentifiable consorts with lanyards and walkie-talkies keep Mr Wan in check. Gok is here to “do the style” for Channel 4.
This is particularly irksome for some of the older members of the Press Room who believe that the terrestrial broadcaster is sacrificing paddock study at the altar of celebrity-spotting. Gok doesn’t seem to mind a bit and is loving it.
Mike Vince is also loving it. Vince is now in his fifteenth year of calling the Royal Procession as Her Majesty and her guests roll down the royal mile in their carriages. Vince has a statesman-like quality, and his unmistakeable voice is as familiar to Ascot racegoers as Huw Edwards now is to BBC royal event watchers. Long may Mike reign here on course and behind the mic!
It’s more overcast today and the heady excitement of the opening morning has given way to a more considered atmosphere.
The champagne bars are a little less heaving, and more study appears to be going into the racing pages of the daily papers. Punters seem to be trying to concentrate, but it’s not yet noon and the thirst will soon kick in. This is when the bookies will flutter their eyelids and move in for the kill..
Her Majesty has a runner this afternoon, with the Michael Bell-trained filly TOUCHLINE bidding to score in the last race of the day at 5.35 in the royal colours. The feature race of the day, the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes has an international feel with Free Eagle heading the market for the Irish followed by French fancy Ectot ahead of Japanese hot-pot Spielberg.
Far East watchers suggest the latter could be a monster. And on that shameful note, I’ll sign off and head to the Ticket Office West where rumours abound that some of the hats are being confiscated for being “overly commercial”. What’s not to love about the Royal Ascot doormen?!
The Queen arrived in blue and the sun came out, although nobody told the bookies who were already whingeing about the royal leak.
Perhaps the Queen was wearing her colours in tribute to Godolphin who had the best backed horse of the day, Always Smiling, in the final race of the day, the Sandringham?
The day got off to a muddling start with Dutch Connection turning over the hotpot Ivawood in the Jersey Stakes.
It was a 1-2 for the Hills family with son Charlie’s horse beating father Barry’s horse Fadhayyil to spark emotional scenes in the Winner’s Enclosure. The Queen Mary went the way of Acapulco who had flown over from the States and been the subject of a typical American-inspired plunge. Has a 2 year old filly sprinter ever looked so physically imposing?
Here was a barrel tank of a horse who had turbo engines and turned the juvenile sprint into a procession.
Bookies had their respite courtesy of Amazing Maria’s shock 25/1 win in the Duke Of Cambridge. Integral had been backed into odds-on but showed nothing at the finish, much to the delight of the men with the satchels.
Their grins turned to snarls ahead of the feature race of the day, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, as Pat Smullen rode the ride of his life on board big race favourite Free Eagle to take the prize from the gutsy and unlucky The Grey Gatsby. If ever anyone wanted to sell this week to a newcomer, show them this race – it was as good as it gets, and then some.
Ryan Moore, having already steered home Acapulco, was hungry for more success and duly found it courtesy of GM Hopkins in the Royal Hunt Cup. We’re running out of superlatives for Moore. Where he leads, the rest all inevitably follow , and all too literally to the discomfort of the bookies.
Which left the last race – the Sandringham Handicap. The aforementioned Always Smiling was sent off the narrow favourite but Her Majesty had one of her own in the race with Touchline lining up.
As Jamie Spencer weaved his way through the traffic aboard Touchline, the pressmen dared to believe in a royal winner but Always Smiling had gone for home and was home for all money… Or was she? As jockey James Doyle battled to keep Always Smiling straight to the finishing the line, the irresistible force of Frankie Dettori loomed large.. Fresh from his Derby win at Epsom less than a fortnight ago, Frankie was seeking his 50th Royal Ascot winner.
And when the result of the photo finish came in, Frankie had done. His mount, Osaila, had got up and we were treated to our ‘flying dismount’. The crowds headed to the band-stand for their sing-song and to charge their batteries ahead of Ladies Day.
This correspondent has a 5 o clock alarm ahead of an appearance on ITV1’s Good Morning Britain so is heading straight to bed (via a glass of bubbles, of course…)