This has been a rotten few months for racing- doping scandals, jockey bans and the sincere sadness of everyone at the Death of Sir Henry Cecil.
Now in one glorious hour amid glorious sunshine the smile is back- and how!
I have been part of the Presentation and Commentary Team at Royal Ascot this week- an honour and a privilege and this year has been my 10th describing the Royal Procession- the pomp and pageantry that preceeds the first race and means so much to those at the track and watching.
But this Thursday was different- today we saw two scenes that will probably live with me well long enough to ‘tell the grandchildren’.
Part of my job is to call the winning horse into the Winners Enclosure in the middle of the huge bowl that doubles as Ascot’s Parade Ring after each race. First there was the case of the raw emotion and the magnificent outpouring of affection from so many as Ripsote, trained by Sir Henry Cecil until his death 9 days ago and racing for his widow Lady Cecil won the Ribblesdale Stakes.
But the tears faded and the cheers arrived in the most memorable of all styles as The Queen’s Estimate won the biggest and most cherished prize of the lot- The Gold Cup.
The unforgettable pictures of the first Reigning Monarch ever to win The Gold Cup have been flashed round the world. My challenge, how to salute the most gutsy and courageous horse, a brilliant training performance and a top drawer ride by a Champion Jockey.
I can’t remember exactly what I said- The Queen was walking towards me as I did it-, but it produced the kind of euphoria, outpouring of affection and celebration the like of which I have never seen in Sport. For decades Her Majesty has donated the Gold Cup and presented it. Now she has one for the Windsor Castle mantlepiece where I am sure The Duke of Edinburgh, watching and recuperating will have shouted Estimate home too.
Racing owes The Queen a lot. Today it showed how much it appreciates it.
And those lucky enough to have been there were given an occasion no other sport could ever match and really will be ‘one to tell the grandchildren.’
Mike ‘Keep your halo Straight’ Vince