I spent last week glued to the world’s best flat racing festival, Royal Ascot.
Some fun facts about the five days of world class horse racing:
- Royal Ascot welcomes 300,000 race-goers across five days;
- 70,000 attend Thursday’s Gold Cup Day;
- Viewed in over 200 countries around the globe;
- Approximately 400 helicopters and 1,000 limos descend on Royal Ascot every year;
- There are 163 full-time staff, which increases by more than 6,500 temporary staff during Royal Ascot;
- Over 2,000 hours of staff training delivered to maintain the high levels of customer service expected by Royal Ascot attendees;
- 3,500 cleaning shifts run on a 24-hour cycle during the week;
- 26,000 items of temporary furniture are hired in for the Royal Meeting;
- 5,000 people signed into Ascot’s free Wi-Fi at the Royal Meeting;
- In 2017, over 120,000 tweets were logged mentioning Royal Ascot or using #Royal Ascot;
- 19,430 Facebook check-ins;
- 976,258 video views across social media;
- 30,000 people downloaded the free Ascot app;
- 33 live music acts performed across the five days;
- 173,000 race cards printed;
- 509 horses running across five days;
- 5 hours of live television coverage on ITV
- There are more than 100 bars and food outlets around the racecourse, and 225 private boxes;
- 39 professional kitchens operate during Royal Ascot: 25 in the Grandstand, plus one for every two boxes;
- Over 13,000 flowers and plants are grown and planted especially for Royal Ascot
During the five days of the Royal Meeting race-goers consume:
- 240,000 hand-crafted afternoon tea cakes;
- 128,500 bottles of mineral water;
- 120,000 buttermilk scones;
- 80,000 cups of tea;
- 60,000 finger sandwiches;
- 25,000 spears of English asparagus;
- 8,000 Cornish crabs;
- 7,000 punnets of mixed berries;
- 7,000 rumps of English lamb;
- 5,000 kilos of salmon;
- 5,000 Angus steaks;
- 3,500 fresh lobsters;
- 3,000 kilos of beef sirloin;
- 1,200kg of Cornish clotted cream
The important highlights include: average daily attendance is 60,000 and the races are televised live to millions worldwide, all able to bet remotely. The television coverage is thorough, researched, and excitingly presented by a team of varied talents and interests. Our pedestrian horse racing “journalists” could learn exponentially from watching the coverage of this unique extravaganza.
To add to what you can read above, there are several stands built around the grounds, including stands encircling the parade ring and stands on the infield.
While this sounds like a massive property, the truth is Ascot contains only 79 acres. The Caymanas Park property is 196 acres. Jamaica is unlikely to ever host a meet like Royal Ascot but, with our vast available space, a little imagination, initiative and capital, imagine what we could do to inject some life into our dying sport.
Tomorrow is Derby Day. Will we promote a live concert on Friday night or Saturday morning? Will we invite concessionaires to set up food stalls; restaurants or bars? Will we ever build any more stands; develop the infield; or partner with others to introduce an entertainment centre including maybe even a cinema? Or will we continue to focus on one tired horse racing product; cram a maximum of 6,000 people into an inadequate stand; hide the races from a wider public with unimaginative and boring radio and TV coverage; and act like we’re the only game in town? Will we ever have an ambitious vision for local horse racing?
The Derby itself is a true test of stamina so the race is usually won by the horse able to finish his/her last 400m fastest. So, let’s have a close look
Commander Two closed the last 400m in the Guineas in 28.4; Marquesas (needed the race) in 27.4! Over the longer distance of the Lotto Classic (2000 metres; TV+0.4 per 200m), Drummer Boy (made all; 51kg) produced a final 400m (corrected to 57kg) of 30.4; Marquesas (wide throughout) closed in 28.4!
This year, the fillies have proven themselves inferior to the colts and Fayrouz closed the last 400m of the Oaks (TV-0.4 per 200m; corrected to 55kg) in 29.1! She improved on June 9 to win an Overnight Allowance at 1600m clocking a final 400m (corrected to 55kg) in 28.4.
At 1600m Marquesas (27.4) has, by far, the best final 400m split and at 2,000 metres he’s again much the best finisher so Marquesas, sure to relish the 2,400 metres Derby trip, must be a confident selection.
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
On May 31, I told you that, in winning a $600,000 claimer, Loose Cannon’s CT was “3/5ths second faster than Open Allowance average and 4/5ths second faster than Overnight Allowance so he’s going places.” Yet, on June 23 he appeared in another claiming race ($750,000 tag; 1000m round) at an incredible overlay price of 7/5 and duly beat the 6/5 favourite, Armageddon, in a close finish. There’s more to come over further.
Let’s see what’s happened since we last met:
June 23, 2018 [TV +0.6/200m (Rd); +4(str)]
Mr. Universe (-7) finally confirmed early promise, continuing his recently progressive profile by slamming a good field by 11 lengths (Race 10; Open Allowance; 1200m; TV+3) in 1:11.1! His CT (1:10.2) is a second faster than Grade 1 standard so he’s on track for the Caribbean Sprint Championship.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
We did manage to point you in the way of the feature race winner at Royal Ascot as Stradivarius rewarded our confidence by winning the Gold Cup but festival betting was marred by having to predict so far in advance hence ending up with a couple of key non-runners.
Tomorrow the Irish run their Derby and the popular Northumberland Plate (Handicap) is off at Newcastle where the racing surface is now tapeta. It’s hard to be sure who’ll line up for the Irish Derby at time of writing but two from the English Derby to consider, if starting, should be The Pentagon (improving sort who didn’t get his ground at Epsom) and Young Rascal who appeared unsuited by the track. The former is marginally preferred.
In the Plate, last year’s first and second renew rivalry and Newcastle standing dish Natural Scenery is taken to turn the tables on the classy Higher Power with a 3 lbs swing for ½ length beating. Who Dares Wins is a danger to all and sundry.
Finally, two notebook horses for you coming out of Royal Ascot:
First Eleven [3yo b.c. Frankel – Zenda (Zamindar)], a half-brother to Kingman among others, had a tongue-tie fitted for the King George V Stakes (0-105 Handicap; 12f; good to firm) despite winning easily at Newbury when last seen off 14lb lower. He suffered a nightmare trip especially in the latter stages and was forced to switch for an inside passage. Nothing was finishing faster than him and he was in front not far past the line.
Curiosity [3yo b.g. High Chaparral – Precautionary (Green Desert)] was laid out for this race [Brittania Stakes; 0-105 Heritage Handicap; 1 mile (straight); good to firm] ever since he was narrowly beaten by Symbolization (since 5th Irish Guineas and 4th Jersey) at Newmarket on reappearance. He seemed to have been drawn on the “wrong” side of the track but came through from off the pace to do best of those on the near side and end up only 1 ¼ lengths 2nd to impressive winner Ostilio. It was a highly creditable effort as the race didn’t set up for the closers.