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where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2019-06-22 16:50:14  
Rose At Ascot: Royal Ascot just never fails to deliver

I have been coming here for more years that I can remember and attend every day, so that's 6 days of racing multiplied by numerous years but never fail to be thrilled. I always think before the meeting that there really can't be anything new to write about and that surely after all these years everything has been done once before, but no. That is what makes this place so unique and that is why people make the annual pilgrimage to arguably the best Race meeting in the world, writes Rose Hall exclusively for SAHorseracing.COM. 

Not only are there the best thoroughbreds in the world and Royals to watch, more prize money than any other British meeting to win, but there are records to break and every year I have been here there has been something to marvel at. This year it's been the turn of a lady to break a record that has lasted 32 years. Hayley Turner made Royal Ascot history yesterday by becoming the First Lady jockey to ride a Royal Ascot winner since I've been coming here. She is only the second female in the history of racing here to win and Gaye Calloway's record has stood for over 30 years. Hayley had even actually retired over 4 years ago but made a return last year. "Thanks Be" came in at 33-1 to win the Sandringham stakes just beating the Queens horse "Magnetic Charm"into second. We had waited all week for a Royal winner and I actually did think "Magnetic Charm"was going to do it for the Queen but there is no doubt weight kills and "Thanks Be "only carrying 8 stone as opposed to Magnetic Charm at 9 st 7 ibs on the sticky going just gave Hayley the chance to make history. I've met her a few times in the weighing room cupboard that they used to give Women jockeys at Windsor racecourse and sat with her while she waited for her only ride on gloomy rainy evenings and have always been blown away by her enthusiasm and commitment. I have never heard her moan and she is always grateful to get any rides that come her way. Michael Bell has always been one trainer to give her chances and largely thanks to the opportunities he gave her she rode a century of winners in 2008, being the first woman to do so. In 2010 she rode her first Group 1 in the July cup and then again in the Nunthorpe. She proved that women were good enough if given the opportunities and no doubt the young women that have now come through have all learnt from Hayley. She has been a great role model on and off the horse to aspiring women jockeys.

Then we of course have another history maker that always makes his mark at Royal Ascot,both crowd and Royal favourite, Frankie Dettori. Thursday, Ladies Day, was his day! What are we all going to do when Frankie retires. It will be the end of fun and frivolity and a sad day. His was a Fairytale Thursday and after winning the first three races of the day he was absolutely brimming with Italian confidence before the Gold cup, no doubt the highlight of the meeting for me. "Stradivarius" picked up on this and the Gold cup was in no doubt at any point in the race. The flashy "Sea the Stars"chestnut with white socks doesn't really shout " stayer" and John Gosden his trainer had expressed doubts about his handling of the soft ground but after his 5 back to back wins last year he looks like he is an even better 5 year old. Frankie, now 42 years old, then worked the crowd and oh my God they love him. The whole place, nearly 70,000 people just roared. There is really nowhere else like it.

It is the thrill of having a runner here that attracts the high rollers and spenders. Over the years I've seen many new kids on the block, The Qatar boys came on the scene a number of years ago now after the dominance of the Irish and the Sheiks and since then King Power who lost their patron in that awful Leicester city helicopter crash are still spending and buying proven horses that stand a chance of winning here. The latest to hit the headlines have been Phoenix Thoroughbreds. Headed up by Dubai based businessman Amer Abdulaziz the prolific spenders yet again enjoyed the buzz of a Group 1 win when "Advertise"took the Commonwealth Cup with remarkably the Phoenix Ladies "Forever in Dreams" taking the runner up spot. Phoenix have achieved this in only three years and they are now a global company who are making acquisitions world wide. "Advertise" will be a future stallion for the company and apparently they already have some stallions in America. The runner up "Forever in Dreams" was bought by Phoenix for their Ladies syndicate and earnt them nearly a hundred thousand back on their £430,000 spend at the Ascot runners sale on Monday night. Still a few more runs and wins needed before they get their return financially but to see the ladies in orange jumping up and down yesterday I am sure none of them will ever resent their spend and got back more in memories and fun than they ever thought possible. Again that what this meeting does,makes people's dreams come true. Hayley, Frankie and Phoenix all made their dreams come true this week.

I caught up with a few familiar South African racing faces this week. Had a lovely car park picnic with Philip and Jane Bamford on Tuesday and Philip excitingly had his Derby day winner "Watchable" run in The Wokingham on Saturday. I also bumped into Jill and John Warner, always they will be known as "Carry on Alice" partners and coincidentally saw Alice's breeder, Klarwervlei's ,John Koster , here on Wednesday along with Adrian Todd. There is no doubt Royal Ascot is an institution and race goers come year in and year out, meet up with friends,picnic in the car parks in the same place every year and have their little routines. Every year comes round quicker and quicker and every year I think I think it can't get any better but it always does!  

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