A sparkling Royal Ascot finished yesterday, after five days of sunshine, horses, hats, champagne and magnificent racing. Highlights included the wonder filly Goldikova's win in the very first race of the meeting; the thrilling finish to the Gold Cup, won by a whisker by Rite of Passage; the daily spectacle of the Royal Procession; the smiles and happiness on the face of HM The Queen, enjoying five days of her favourite sport among like-minded people; the beauty of the shining, highly-bred horses; the elegance of the clothes worn by both sexes - much more than usual this year, I thought; people had taken trouble and largely succeeded, and there were fewer silly hats with miniature football pitches or large bowls of strawberries.
There is nothing in the world like Royal Ascot. There are other elegant race meetings and plenty of good races, but Ascot is unique, partly because of the fact that it is the Queen's own meeting, at her own racecourse, where no advertising or sponsorship is allowed, and racegoers are expected to conform to certain standards. Every race is keenly contested and of a very high quality, and it all makes for an experience which is highly enjoyable. If the sun shines as well, as it did this year, the party really goes with a swing, for five whole days.