Glory for Queen – and King of Ascot

Estimate lands first Gold Cup for monarch after emotional triumph for Henry Cecil's Riposte

Royal Ascot

Just when it seemed to have exhausted every last vestige of public goodwill, the British Turf contrived an afternoon to redeem its iniquities and even to assuage its grief. Having been lost in shadows of scandal and bereavement, its path was suddenly illuminated by converging beams of brilliance from two fillies. One, carrying the silks of the sovereign, enriched many of her subjects in the most venerable race of the week; while the other showed how this patch of heath in the royal forest had actually become a shared dominion.

For all those who toasted the longevity of the Queen, after Estimate won the Gold Cup, the success of Riposte in the Ribblesdale Stakes had caused as many to lament afresh the premature loss of a man she had knighted two years previously. Nine days after the death of Sir Henry Cecil, his widow chewed her lips and groped bravely for words to describe the fealty not only of his professional community, but also of thousands who had never even met the most prolific trainer in Royal Ascot history.

Had Riposte's fortunes happened to turn on some apparently random consideration – luck in running, say, or the nod in a photo finish – fate would surely have been shamed into some miniature gesture of remorse for the cruel abbreviation of his life. As it was, Riposte seemed herself to ride a swelling tide of goodwill as she coasted through the race and hurtled clear, Tom Queally slapping her neck in delight. "It has been a tough, tough week and I know a lot of people are struggling," the jockey said, as he pulled up. "I am sure Henry is looking down, helping us."

Finally, then, catharsis for those who had begun the meeting on Tuesday by sharing a choked minute's silence, broken only by the squeaking wheels of the royal carriages as they were led away in token of the unyielding cycles of life and death. Lady Cecil composed herself admirably to attest to the significance of a moment fittingly shared with the stable's most faithful patron, Khaled Abdulla.

"I don't really have the words to say what I am feeling right now," she stammered. "I think people will probably have a good idea. Henry was just adored by so many people. People who had never met him just loved him. I'm sorry, my head is in a complete spin. Tuesday was very hard. Henry adored Ascot, he was so looking forward to it. He had been planning for it, from last year and definitely from the spring. We are just carrying on what he wanted. Keeping busy is what is keeping us all going. If we had nothing to do, then I think we would all fall to bits."

While she was nominally credited as trainer, this unmistakably felt like a 76th Ascot success for a man who brought his horses to a summer bloom here as reliably as his own dandy raiment.

His great rival, Sir Michael Stoute, had described Cecil as perhaps the best trainer in history and certainly the most loved. His own career has reached something of a plateau of late, but he enjoyed one of its finest moments when Estimate held Simenon by a neck to land a public gamble – and become a first winner owned by the monarch in the Gold Cup's 206-year history. The Queen, herself scheduled to present the trophy, deputed that task to her son, the Duke of York.

"This win is very high on my list," Stoute said. "Because it's for a lady who, never mind being the Queen, loves racing and is so good for [our sport]. She has such a love for her breeding programme. That's why it will have been a bigger thrill to win with a filly, rather than a colt."

For patriots, some such celebration was overdue. There had been yet another overseas winner in the opener, No Nay Never scorching over the firm ground to give the enterprising American trainer, Wesley Ward, a third juvenile success here to add to his double in 2009. His rider, Joel Rosario, had already won a Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup this year, but this became a day when the hosts could once again propose a degree of parity for the jewels of their own sport.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test