Royal Ascot 2012 was the most outstanding in modern times

By Cornelius LysaghtBBC horse racing correspondent
Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot 2012 was outstanding, probably the most outstanding in modern times, and didn't British racing deserve it?

From Frankel to Black Caviar, via So You Think, Colour Vision, Estimate and Sea Moon, the quality of the action and the drama was as breathtaking as it gets.

At the centre of all mop-up chats, understandably, is Black Caviar's jockey Luke Nolen, criticised after the unbeaten mare's narrowest of successes in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

But the fact is that the Aussie heroine did win, thus retaining her 22 from 22 record, so Nolen's quickly admitted misjudgement - "brain fade" - of the tough finishing metres actually only added to the richness of the mix.

Ironically, now it turns out that she damaged muscles during the race, the rider's error may have in fact been a blessing in disguise, and avoided more serious injury.

British racing was feeling lucky going into a Royal Ascot billed as much vintage as international, and that sense of good fortune not only materialised, but stayed in place pretty much throughout the five days.

And, let's be honest, none of that could be guaranteed if you consider some of the difficult headlines that have accompanied other high-profile events, notably the Grand National.

But, on this occasion good fortune visited the Sport of Kings, ensuring what might be called 'the right kind of drama' was in play.

Because that's what it was: good sport puts your heart into your mouth one moment, and then has you throwing your hat into the air the next, and that's what Royal Ascot delivered in spades this year.

Every day had a good story to tell, none better than that of Frankel, whose sequence extended to 11 from 11 starts in the Queen Anne Stakes, the very first race of the whole thing.

That we rightly wow loudly about his feats gives some idea of what Black Caviar has achieved by reaching 22 races without anyone getting by her.

Sir Henry Cecil is likely to run Frankel just three more times, twice next month, in the Sussex Stakes, Glorious Goodwood and the International Stakes, York before returning to Ascot on Champions Day in October.

The future looks rosy for the Sir Michael Stoute-trained, Royal winner Estimate, who could be a contender for the 2013 Gold Cup, and for Stoute's Sea Moon, who positively stormed home in the Hardwicke Stakes.

And amidst all the other headline-makers, here's one that should not be allowed to go by unnoticed: the 2008 Epsom Derby winner New Approach was stallion of the winners of an impressive three of the two-year-old races.

His progeny can be expected to get better and better, as he did, with age, and the thoroughbred breeding industry is understandably excited about his prospects.

The only cloud on Royal Ascot's generally sunny horizon - and racecourse officials insist it's only a small one - was that attendances were down over the week.

A deliberate reduction in capacity is said to e mainly the reason though clearly even the world's best known race meeting is not entirely immune from the recession.

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