Royal Ascot review: Murphy's magic and weather worries
Royal Ascot really did have it all this year, with a new champion crowned, stewards' room drama and changeable weather in the extreme. Here's a look at what we learnt this week... The star of the show
Royal Ascot really did have it all this year, with a new champion crowned, stewards' room drama and changeable weather in the extreme. Here's a look at what we learnt this week...
Magic Murphy takes Dettori's crown
The star of the show this week was champion jockey Oisin Murphy. Despite having won his fair share of flat racing's prizes already in his relatively young career, the leading jockey's title at Royal Ascot has been monopolised in recent years by the usual suspects, Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori.
The 25-year-old was still playing down the prospect of taking the crown from Dettori - leading rider for the previous two years - late on Friday after riding a sensational double with Alcohol Free and Quickthorn.
"This armband belongs to Frankie", Murphy joked after victory in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. Not anymore.
Having watched Moore ride a final day double and claw his way back into contention, Murphy then clinched the title in dramatic style as Foxes Tales ran out the victor in the penultimate race of the week, despite veering violently across the track before the line.
What a difference a day makes
The week started in glorious sunshine and, even with water added to the ground before the off, the official going was good to firm for the first three days of the meeting.
Tactics and positioning were key as those coming out of a high draw, and those who stuck to the stand's side rail, appearing to have a real advantage on the faster surface.
Then the heavens opened. 23mm of rain fell between close of play on Thursday and Friday morning, putting day four in real jeopardy.
A lengthy inspection ensued but the ground was deemed fit for racing and the action lived up to the suspense.
Horses now went down the middle of the track as the deluge of rain continued throughout Friday. Campanelle and Dragon Symbol providing the height of the drama as the Commonwealth Cup result went to the stewards' room.
Hollie Doyle delivers again on the big stage
Hollie Doyle enjoyed another memorable week and, once more, wrote her name into the history books as she equalled Hayley Turner's record as a dual Royal Ascot-winning female rider.
Doyle's big moment came in the final race of Tuesday, giving 33-1 outsider Amtiyaz the bravest of rides to win the Copper Horse Stakes.
Having won her first Group One on board Glen Shiel at Ascot in October, the pair so nearly repeated the feat in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.
Dream of Dreams and Ryan Moore getting the better of Doyle in the end after another cracking ride from the Sky Sports Racing ambassador.
Poetic and Palace a class apart
The week began with two stand-out performances on Tuesday. Palace Pier earning the title of 'best horse in the world' with a fourth Group One victory in the opening Queen Anne Stakes, kicking off a great week for John and Thady Gosden.
Even more impressive was Jim Bolger's Poetic Flare, who followed up 2000 Guineas success at Newmarket with a complete rout of the field in the Group One St James's Palace Stakes.
A real family affair for Bolger, who trained Poetic Flare's father - Dawn Approach - to win the very same race in 2013.
Love was made to work a lot harder in the Prince of Wales's Stakes in Wednesday's feature, but Aidan O'Brien's filly was all heart to make it four wins in a row.
Favourite backers were let down on Thursday, however, as returning champion Stradivarius lost his Gold Cup crown to young pretender Subjectivist.