If this didn't give them a taste for the game, nothing will. Quite apart from free entry to the Queen's own racecourse, the benedictions shared by 26,595 people here yesterday extended to an immaculate spring afternoon and, for those disposed to take an interest, some pretty serious stuff on the track itself.
Scintillating steps set the stage alight
Ballet is in crisis, with fresh talent and ideas struggling to break through and the major companies obsessed with 200-year-old productions at the expense of new work, according to the head of Sadler's Wells, in remarks sure to cause a sharp intake of breath backstage at his more traditional rivals.
A Hans Christian Andersen tale set in a Soviet-style state, with a star choreographer and Pet Shop Boys score, tries too hard to do too much
With Winter Variations, Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat takes an earlier idea and stretches it to breaking point. This hour-long duet repeats themes from his earlier Winter Voyage – and repeats them, and repeats them. It wears thin.
Vertical Road, the latest work by Akram Khan, celebrates 10 years of his own company.
How do dance companies survive their founder choreographers? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, at Sadler's Wells before a UK tour, was created by Ailey, who died in 1989. Directed by Judith Jamison, it's remained one of the world's most successful contemporary companies. Yet it can look bogged down by its need to honour Ailey. This second programme had a cheerful world premiere, but first we had to get through a work of hagiography.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which kicks off a UK tour at Sadler's Wells, is best known for Revelations. Created by Alvin Ailey in 1960, it showcases the strength of the dancers, and the company's roots in modern dance and African-American culture.
Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is known for his collaborations. He's recently worked with Akram Khan, with Shaolin Temple monks, with the sculptor Antony Gormley. Gormley is back for Babel (words): Cherkaoui's multi-cultural cast argue in a mix of languages, framed by steel Gormley shapes that suggest towers or cages.
Reviewed by Zoë Anderson
Akram Khan's Gnosis is built around images of blindness. And what images! It's a work that goes from the grand strength of co-star Yoshie Sunahata, swinging her arms as if beating a great drum, to Khan's astonishing evocation of death by fire, trembling and shaking like flames in the wind.
At the start of the second half of this extraordinary concert, Rufus Wainwright laughingly confessed that he had been "shitting bricks" over his performance in the first half. No wonder. Before the interval he had treated us to a stunning rendition of his new album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, presented as a kind of Beckettian monodrama. An official had requested that we did not applaud the separate numbers, that we should hold back until the very end "as the exit is part of the performance". So was the entrance, and then some.
In Acosta, we have a noble performer with nothing left to prove
Doubters might have predicted an early retirement for Arlene Phillips after she was ungraciously dropped as a judge on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. But yesterday she cemented what can only be described as an extraordinary career comeback when Sadler's Wells Theatre announced her appointment to its board of directors. The position will become effective with her first board meeting on 25 November.
Martin Creed is creating a ballet for Sadler's Wells. Zoë Anderson watches the artist rehearse his latest work in the dance studio
Rubies aren't the only gems