Dawn of Royal Ascot’s new era ends in defeat for King Charles and Dettori | Sean Ingle

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The monarch’s lukewarm interest in racing will not have been helped by veteran jockey’s ban for careless riding on Saga

Even on a day when Royal Ascot felt even more awash with bunting than ever, and the top hats and collars were suitably starched and stiff, there was a hint of change in the air. A gentle sense of tradition encountering transition after the death of the sport’s greatest patron, Queen Elizabeth II, last year.

It was evident as the royal procession bumpily made its way down the straight before the first race, and the regal waves of King Charles III were met with gentle – rather than rousing applause – although plenty did tip their hats. The racecards also carried a new royal cypher, bearing the double C for Charles and Camilla.

It was evident too as the crowds cheered the sport’s most famous jockey, Frankie Dettori, at what will be his final Royal Ascot before he rides off into the sunset. The headline in Tuesday’s Racing Post had proclaimed it the Land of Hope and Dettori. But this was one of those afternoons when the magician waves his wand but the rabbit refuses to leave the hat.

Mostly, though, Royal Ascot’s unique ecosystem remains as familiar and unaltered as it ever was. A few months ago the Jockey Club announced a relaxation of its dress code to get more people to go racing. But for a place that is a stickler for rules, this was one Ascot was happy to swerve.

In the Royal Enclosure, in particular, the clothing restrictions would make a sergeant major wince. Women are told that dresses and skirts should fall just above the knee or longer – while men are reminded of the need for a waistcoat and necktie, with patterns of a patriotic nature deemed acceptable. Those unsure of where the line is can visit a room by the entrance which is labelled “dress code enquiries.”

Some will roll their eyes at this, as well as Ascot’s proud boast that it remains the centrepiece of the British sporting social season. But it is certainly up there. And it would be churlish to deny that it offers a palate that a large-cross section of the British public rather enjoys: dressing up, drinking, royalty and a speculative punt.

Taking it all in was Dave Harries, an 80-year-old recording engineer, who said he had been coming to Royal Ascot since the 1960s. “It’s still the place to be,” he insisted, as he showed off his new Panama hat. “It’s about the tradition, the racing, and the fact you can talk to everyone.”

As Harries also noted, Charles is rumoured to be no turfite at heart. However for now, at least, he is making the effort. He has promised to be here all week. And before the penultimate race on the first day, he was down in the paddock to run his eye over his horse, Saga, and talk to his jockey, Dettori. He even looked to be giving a passable impression of enjoying himself. But there was to be no winning headline as Saga trudged home in fifth.

Afterwards Dettori’s face was etched in frustration, the bookies in delight. For decades, they have been wary of the “Frankie factor”, with multiple wins on the same card turning small stakes into damaging payouts. But there was no chance of that happening on the first day, despite the 52-year-old’s best efforts.

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Written by Sean Ingle at Ascot
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2023/jun/20/king-charles-royal-ascot-frankie-dettori-horse-racing under the title “Dawn of Royal Ascot’s new era ends in defeat for King Charles and Dettori | Sean Ingle”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.