Racing: Royal appointment looms

By J.A. McGrath

Estimate likely to return to Ascot next year to give the Queen a noteworthy double.

A wonderful moment for the Queen as her son Prince Andrew presents her with the Gold Cup after Estimate's win last Friday at Royal Ascot. Photo / AP
A wonderful moment for the Queen as her son Prince Andrew presents her with the Gold Cup after Estimate's win last Friday at Royal Ascot. Photo / AP

Estimate's gallant win in Thursday's Gold Cup was the highlight of another memorable Royal Ascot, with the filly presenting the Queen with her biggest triumph at her own special race meeting 60 years after her first.

With any luck, this 4-year-old can return and win another for her enthusiastic owner.

The Queen threw a party at Windsor Castle that night for "a small gathering who all appreciated what the Gold Cup win meant to her", according to John Warren, her racing adviser. "It was a wonderful night."

Something similar occurred in 1974 when the Queen had flown to Chantilly to see Highclere win the Prix de Diane, and on her return summoned her jockey, Joe Mercer, and trainer, Dick Hern, and others connected to her Classic winner, to celebrate.

Sir Michael Stoute, who trained Estimate so skilfully to have her peaking on Thursday, had only just returned to the racecourse after a serious operation.

Elated but tired physically after a special day, he was not going to miss the impromptu party. "They are moments you must seize and enjoy," Stoute said.

Warren and Stoute have not yet discussed plans with the Queen for the second half of the season, but high on the list for consideration are trips to France, for the Prix du Cadran and the Prix Royal-Oak (French St Leger), both at Longchamp.

Extreme staying distances bring out the best in this stoutly bred filly, and they are the most obvious targets.

Stoute observed; "If you look at her frame, she's still got a lot of strengthening and furnishing to do. She's a big, scopy 4-year-old filly."

It is not hard to see Estimate taking a similar path to Ascot next year, with one prep race before the Gold Cup.

For sheer dignity and bravery, Lady Cecil deserves a big mention. She sent out two winners, Riposte and the ill-fated Thomas Chippendale, and finished sixth on the trainers' list. Sir Henry Cecil's private funeral was held yesterday, but those winners were a poignant reminder of the Warren Place impact on the royal meeting over more than four decades.

Jim Bolger is worthy of praise for his gamble in bringing Dawn Approach back so quickly after his Derby flop to win the St James's Palace.

It restored his value as a potential sire, and more clashes with Toronado are now expected.

For several months, fans have been lamenting what they saw as racing's deteriorating image, with drugs, steroids, cocaine, jockeys stopping horses and race-fixing all throwing up the wrong type of headline. The reality is that the public fully support this meeting and are not going to have their fun spoiled by the negatives created by the unsavoury element, who will be forever present where an easy buck can be made.

They will remember Estimate and Riposte, not villains they may have read about.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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