With Royal Ascot done and dusted for another year and the results consigned to the record books now is the time to take stock of one of the great meetings of the year and highlights of the racing calendar.
The week overall was a good one but as ever a long one and the weather didn’t help but all outside sporting events in Great Britain are a hostage to fortune on that score, but it did dampen spirits and rather than finishing with a flourish the meeting rather limped home on Saturday afternoon. At that point it seemed an eternity since Canford Cliffs had finally handed a Richard Hannon horse a victory over Goldikova and Frankel had maintained his record despite failing to repeat his stunning 2000 Guineas success. Those placing horse racing bets would have been pleased by the shows on offer.
Having three Group 1 races within 90 minutes at the start of the first day strikes me as being a little top-heavy, especially on a day which of the five attracts the lowest attendance. Instead of starting off with such a bang, perhaps it would make more sense to go out with one and also beef up the other days of the meeting. The Friday and Saturday of the meeting need to attract greater quality and with seven Group 1 races during the week surely it would make more sense to move a least one of the Tuesday Group 1s to a later date. Those looking at the horse racing betting odds may agree.
Ascot have said that they won’t be tempted to move any of the races but somehow we think a tweak or two won’t be too far away. Those tweaks could include moving the meeting back by a day so that it runs from Wednesday to Sunday. A Sunday meeting of this magnitude would make sense as British Sundays are uniformly mundane and the racing public of which there are more at weekends are crying out for a better product at those times.
Sponsorship also remains an issue for Ascot as without it they will struggle to maintain the levels of prize-money under the current levy system and that money is and will be increasingly important in attracting the top-class overseas runners that have made the meeting even more attractive.
The Ascot executive have done a wonderful job over the past few years in building the meeting to its current status but it’s position in the calendar needs exploiting further and those tweaks would enable Ascot to do just that.