18th June 2021
For the first time ever, today, I had runners at Royal Ascot without being in attendance myself. Deirdre tells me that I have missed another day in the last 30+ years since I started attending, when we didn’t have a runner and we decided to take a day off, but I don’t remember that. Generally, I would always be there from beginning to end but things are different this year. Not quite as ‘different’ as last year but different from any normal year.
We usually stay fairly nearby – for many years now it has been the Marriott hotel in Slough – but the traffic means that we still need to allow, at least, an hour to drive to the course. This year, with very little traffic, we have been flying down to White Waltham, as we would for any ordinary Ascot fixture, and getting a taxi from there. In all, it has been taking us about an hour and threequarters and I had originally planned to do the same today but, when I saw the weather forecast, I realised that flying might not be an option and so Charlie stayed down last night to cover the meeting if I couldn’t make it.
As it was, the weather was so bad that the meeting had to survive an inspection just after noon and there would have been no possibility of me landing at White Waltham or anywhere else nearby. I stayed at home in the Yorkshire sunshine – not a drop of rain here – and basked in the glory of Subjectivist’s Gold Cup win. It was great to watch the race again and to read some of the newspaper reports – Joe Fanning made the front page of the Yorkshire Post – although it was a little frustrating, if not entirely surprising, to be damned with faint praise in some quarters where the emphasis was on Stradivarius having suffered interference in running rather than on the magnificent performances from Subjectivist and his jockey.
It should, perhaps, be noted that the Gold Cup was the only race on the day where the time dipped below standard, and by a full 1.22 seconds. ITV’s analysis of the sectional times was also very interesting and it pointed out that Subjectivist covered the final furlong faster than any other horse so, if my very basic physics and maths isn’t failing me, that tells me that, for anything to beat him, it would have had to be in front of him with 220 yards to go or it would have had to finish a lot faster than it did on the day.
Stradivarius’s owner, Bjorn Nielsen was the first person to congratulate me when I managed to extricate myself from the winners’ enclosure and he and the Gosdens were very magnanimous in defeat as you would expect from such a professional team. They must have been very disappointed but I am sure that they feel that their great horse owes them nothing. His earnings are quite staggering as, I believe, he collected two £1,000,000 Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers bonuses to add to almost £3,000,000 in prize-money and who is to say that he is finished yet. Subjectivist is highly unlikely to ever amass such earnings although, if this was a different sport, we would probably have Subjectivist’s breeder’s husband, Barry Hearn, promoting a rematch with the bulk of the media rights earnings going to the ‘players’. Wouldn’t that be something?