If you believe most of which you read in the press, there is only one horse running at Royal Ascot this year, the Australian superstar sprinter Black Caviar.
Whilst the appearance of an equine superstar, prepared to travel half way round the world, is undoubtedly welcome, the amount of column inches and broadcaster minutes assigned to the story is very much in the realms of hyperbole.
Interestingly, jockey Ryan Moore has said as much in his Betfair column today, as a consequence he is coming from of stick in the social media and racing forums. Now, this is something you’re not hear me say every day but I do agree with Ryan Moore on this occasion and I think the criticism is undeserved, as he said “let the horse do the talking.”
The amount of coverage given to Black Caviar is ridiculous and in danger of becoming counterproductive, as it could well put people off.
Yes coverage of the great mare running at Royal Ascot is good for the sport, however this coverage needs to be measured and is currently in danger of running out of control.
I am very much looking forward to see her run in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday but it needs to be remembered there are 29 other top class races over the week and they are increasingly becoming in danger of being ignored.
Indeed it seems to have been forgotten that the racecourse rated officially number one in the world, Frankel, is running in the opening contest of the meeting. It could well be argued the opening Queen Anne stakes is the racing equivalent of a premature ejaculation, as with Frankel running the opening race of the meeting, there is a danger of the meeting climaxing too soon. I suppose the consolation of Black Caviar running on the Saturday is it gives us something very special to look forward to later in the meeting.
As I said, I think it is marvellous we attract these overseas runners but please, fellow hacks, try and keep some sense of perspective.
Of course Ascot are delighted with all the publicity and it is no surprise that Saturday is already sold out, let us all hope the capacity crowd will not be disappointed - I don’t think they will. For what it’s worth the only thing I can see beating Black Caviar is the great British weather and the ground being too soft.
Even though I have a preference for National Hunt racing, Royal Ascot is one of my favourite meetings of the year, it is certainly the one flat racing festival which has wall to wall, quality racing.
The meeting which encompasses Group One contests, with the best horses from around the world, alongside fiendishly impossible handicaps, is such there is something for everyone.
Granted many in the crowds are there simply to be seen, there are still many who simply come to watch top class horse racing.
From a working perspective is probably the
hardest week of the year as it means seven am starts and if I am
home for nine in the evening I’m happy.
However it is highly unlikely there will be any paddock reports
from the Royal Meeting, although I will do my best for the big
race each day.
Being at the plankton level of the racing journalism food chain I don’t get access to or anywhere near the parade ring and I have to take my chances with the huge crowds, which does make paddock inspection somewhat difficult - but I like a challenge.
However it is highly unlikely there will be any paddock reports from the Royal Meeting, although I will do my best for the big race each day.
I am fortunate that I am able to watch the racing from the balcony outside the main press room, which does afford the fantastic view of the action.
There is always a large contingent of overseas press at the Royal Meeting and I have a very strong suspicion this year, especially on the Saturday, there will be a large number of antipodean accents to be heard in the media centre - I wonder why?
There will be full coverage of the meeting for all five days here on the web-site as well as Twitter feeds (time permitting) at @orsracing.
Here’s to a great weeks racing and may the best horses win.(Photograph of Black Caviar courtesy Clovervolc - Creative Commons Licence)