The next four days of Royal Ascot will produce Europe's richest and best meeting, with almost pounds 2.5m in prize-money on offer and over 220,000 spectators to watch its dispersal.
Tradition has it that the tickets most folk are interested in this week are the laundry dockets produced to liberate their mornings suits and gowns. For those who do not bet, and indeed have little interest in the equine athletes in front of them, there can only be sorrow. Royal Ascot may be the premier pageant for the clothes horse, but it is the living and breathing version that makes the meeting so rewarding.
It is, though, an oddity of the meeting that Thursday, Gold Cup Day or Ladies Day, from whichever perspective you approach the games, is considered the high point of the week. Today's card is treated almost like an opening ceremony before the real sports begin, yet it is the most valuable offering - with pounds 681,000 to be spread around some of the people who need it least - and probably the best quality day's action. There is a Group One race, two Group Twos, a Group Three and, for the enormously optimistic, two of the most intriguing handicaps of the season.
One man unlikely to have a bet is Alain de Royer Dupre, the Frenchman whose training skill and good fortune are among the few commodities of quality from his homeland that appear not to travel well. De Royer Dupre's Chantilly yard has a 100 per cent record in the British Isles in that they have not won a sausage over here.
Daylami and Ashkalani have come for the St James's Palace Stakes after winning the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) and both have been laughed out of town. Their trainer will not care to ponder the French saying "jamais deux sans trois" as he now sends over a horse with similar credentials in Sendawar.
There are compelling reasons, however, to believe that SENDAWAR (nap 3.45) can break his handler's run, not least the form of the team. Owner (the Aga Khan), trainer and jockey (Gerald Mosse) won the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) on Sunday with Daryaba. Mosse himself has been riding in Britain more consistently this season and must by now have worked out the sneaky signs when the home jockeys are ganging up on him.
In addition, the form of the French Guineas looks at least comparable with the Newmarket version and today's is the first unravelling of cross- Channel form. That will culminate with Oath's wrestle with Montjeu in the Irish Derby.
There are representatives from the big guns for Sendawar to overcome. The Ballydoyle team, who seem to need convincing that Orpen is a sprinter, again send the dual Guineas failure over a mile. And then there is Godolphin's Aljabr, who is easy to think of as a failure himself, yet he has never lost a race. He was pulled out of the Kentucky Derby after giving some rather sloppy messages in Louisville, but is now reported to have regained enthusiasm for his sport.
The antithesis at this meeting to De Royer Dupre is Henry Cecil, who looks at home among the top hats both in appearance and in the results he posts. Many miles of tobacco have been turned to ash in Cecil's lips since Parthenon collected the 1970 Queen Alexandra Stakes. A further 64 winners have followed and, since 1974, Cecil has failed only once, in 1996, to saddle a winner at the Royal meeting.
He will have about another 25 stabs this week and today's Prince of Wales's Stakes, which he has already won five times, looks particularly vulnerable. In this contest, Kieren Fallon, the Warren Place stable jockey, will partner Chester House, who was beaten a neck by Faithful Son in the race last year. It might be unwise to question Fallon, who rode a 168-1 six-timer at Sandown and Lingfield on Saturday and is a sinewy little devil with the occasional hot temper, but he has probably got it wrong here.
Cecil's other runner, the filly Shiva (next best 3.05), is improving so fast that she managed to win the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on only her third start. Her immediate victim that day, Daylami, went on to win the Coronation Cup. In the trade, we call that form.
Xaar runs for Godolphin in this encounter, but the boys from the Emirates have better prospects with Fa-Eq (2.30) in the meeting's opener. And, just to prove that the small man has no chance, the huge force of Aidan O'Brien and Ballydoyle can take the other Group race, the Coventry Stakes, with Fasliyev (4.20).
(Royal Ascot 3.45)
(Royal Ascot 3.05)