It was a surprise that the 2000 Guineas winner, undefeated in seven prior to flopping when favourite for the Derby, was in the line-up at all, but to then win in a thrilling finish was little short of extraordinary.
That was a second conquering of Toronado by Dawn Approach in two meetings, and if they have another go at each other in Glorious Goodwood's Sussex Stakes on 31 July, that will be another duel on the downs to savour.
Having endured a near-miss on Toronado - not his only one in the first few days at Ascot - champion jockey Richard Hughes finally made the winners' podium, in brilliant style,
on Sky Lantern
in the Coronation Stakes.
On the golf course for 14 holes before racing to "clear his head", Hughes rode the 1000 Guineas winner with confidence in her abilities before delivering the filly for an emphatic win.
The immediate talk from assistant trainer Richard Hannon junior was of taking on longer races than this challenge over a mile, and of going for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - if not this season, then next, when she's expected to stay in training.
'Doyle Ascot': The zero to hero hat-trick in little over an hour
James Doyle has been spoken of as a rising star jockey for quite some time, but his first three Royal Ascot wins, all in quick succession on day two, indicate that he's arrived.
This was the perfect showcase for the 25-year-old's talents.
trio of horses
- Al Kazeem, Belgian Bill and Rizeena - are all quiet horses, each needing their own individual rides.
Al Kazeem is all quality and needed precision judgment from the saddle in the Group One Prince of Wales's Stakes; Belgian Bill got the better of 27 rivals in the split-second rough and tumble of the Royal Hunt Cup Handicap; while two-year-old filly Rizeena needed guidance as well as encouragement in the Queen Mary Stakes.
Modest and personable, Doyle is enjoying a lucrative association with Al Kazeem's trainer Roger Charlton and could easily take all three to even dizzier heights in the months ahead.
After Riposte won, Lady Cecil declared, voice shaking with emotion: "This is for Henry. He so loved Ascot."
It was the first time I could recall the old 'there isn't a dry eye in the house' legend actually being correct.
She was, it is to be hoped, spurred on by the outpouring of love and vocal support from across the famous racecourse where Sir Henry sent out a record 75 winners over more than 40 years.
It was a tragedy that Thomas Chippendale collapsed and died after passing the Hardwicke Stakes winning line in front.
Any other business
Leading 2013 Royal Ascot trainer
- four wins (
Declaration of War
- Queen Anne Stakes;
- Coventry Stakes;
- Jersey Stakes;
- Queens Vase)
As we look to the future, the quality of the six two-year-old races looked strong, with the ever-growing interests of the Al Thani family from Qatar taking two of them.
Much of the international interest during the week had centred on US-trained Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby and this year's Dubai World Cup.
However, he finished down the field in the opening Queen Anne Stakes, but American racing still celebrated a win, with No Nay Never in the Norfolk Stakes.
The result was impressive, as was trainer Wesley Ward, the winner of two other juvenile races at Royal Ascot 2009, who called on more of his US colleagues to make the trans-Atlantic trip.
Confirming No Nay Never, successful on his only previous run in Kentucky in April, on course for France's Prix Morny, Ward said his ambition was to get a full house of Ascot's two-year-old races.
Closer to home, Aidan O'Brien flew in from Tipperary to be top trainer with four wins - of a record-equalling eight from Ireland - while Johnny Murtagh, present as both a trainer and a jockey, was top rider, again with four.
The dates for the next one: 17 to 21 June, 2014. But can it be as good as 2013 and 2012?
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