The crowd was up on both days, but the sense of occasion was not. It was Ascot's misfortune that its clientele crosses over quite easily with golf followers and the attention was largely on another game of the turf.
Those that did manage to concentrate on the bestial conflict will have jotted down several names, as this was the ultimate incubator meeting 12 months ago, when the subsequent winners of three Classics were disgorged by the two juvenile Group races.
There were four candidates to emerge from the Royal Lodge Stakes as possible successors to Benny The Dip as a subsequent winner of the Derby. Teapot Row won the race despite swerving across towards the stands rails as if in search of a screen to catch up on the latest from Spain, but the fact that the first six home passed the post like a bee swarm and were covered by a length and a half suggests there may not be an outstanding performer to emerge from the contest.
Connections of City Honours and Kilimanjaro, who finished strongly into third and fourth respectively, will argue otherwise, but there was little to admire about the way they were being hurried along throughout the mile journey. "We were flat out early on, but he came home very well and I'm looking forward to next year," John Reid, City Honours' jockey, reported.
The words from the colt's owner, Robert Sangster, were also more persuasive than the performance itself. "He is the best prospect I have got; the best since Dr Devious," Sangster said. "He is still learning and shows a little greenness, but as Vincent O'Brien used to say, if you get three runs into them as two-year-olds they learn a hell of a lot.
"I can plan next year for him already. We will start at York with the Dante - he is obviously not a Guineas horse - but this fellow has got a terrific [Derby] chance and it is something to look forward to."
Teapot Row, who is named after a line of cottages on the Chatsworth estate of his owner, the Duke of Devonshire, is a consideration for both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby. The Duke is a charming old stick who has had rather an agreeable season with victory also in the July Cup with Compton Place. He entertained us yesterday from underneath a brown velvet hat contorted to Tommy Trinder shape and apparently as aged as the wearer's 77 years.
The grand old Duke knew he was doing rather well in the closing stages, but the minutiae passed him by. "I can't see so well so I just held on to James [Toller, the winning trainer] and my daughter," he said. "I will have to pinch myself all the way home."
Dettori's major success was in the Fillies' Mile which last year delivered Reams Of Verse and Sleepytime. The winning vehicle here was the Luca Cumani- trained Glorosia, whose mint-toothpaste colours burst to the fore at the entrance to the straight like soap out of a wet palm. The manoeuvre was decisive as the favourite, Jibe, was manacled to the far rail and ran out of time to pick the lock.
Glorosia is a best-priced 25-1 for the Oaks but William Hill were impressed enough to cut her to 12-1 second favourite after her win in race-record time.
"This is a good day for the Italians - Dettori, Cumani and Rocca," the trainer said, before adding two more wins to his haul through Ridaiyma, who was awarded the Tote Sunday Special Handicap on the disqualification of Taufan's Melody, and Puce
"Glorosia was travelling very well turning for home, on the bridle, and when Frankie gradually let her increase her stride she lengthened very nicely and looked like she was always going to win," Cumani said.
"Frankie is such an exceptional rider and today he made all the difference." He usually does that at this meeting.
1998 DERBY: Coral: 16-1 King Of Kings & Second Empire, 20-1 Central Park, City Honours, Kilimanjaro & Teapot Row; Ladbrokes: 10-1 Second Empire, 12-1 Kilimanjaro, 16-1 Fleetwood, 20-1 Centra Park, City Honours & Teapot Row; Tote: 12-1 Second Empire, 16-1 Kilimanjaro & Teapot Row, 20-1 City Honours & Fleetwood; William Hill: 12-1 Second Empire, 16-1 Kilimanjaro & Teapot Row, 20-1 Central Park, City Honours, Prolix & Xaar.