The bunting was out, the glass were lined up ready and there was a calm and relaxed atmoshpere about the place as the Royal Meeting 2015 was upon us. Picnics sprawled out in the car parks and the corks were popping in preparation for the fantastic days racing that lay ahead.
2.30pm Queen Anne Stakes
(Group 1 - 1m - Good)
First into the pre parade ring was the dominating figure of Able Friend. Known as "The Beast from the East" he is massive but he didn't seem to be handling the prelims as well as might of been expected given the size of the crowds he has run infront of. Throwing his head from side to side he just seemed unsettled as the runners gathered in the relative tranquility of the pre parade before making their way through the tunnel to the cauldron that is the Ascot paddock.
The favourite for the race was the Freddy Head trained SOLOW. A winner out in Dubai early on in the campaign he had readily dispatched four rivals in the Prix D'Isphahan at Longchamp last time out. How would he cope with arguably his toughest test to date?
The early running was cut out by Toormore with Richard Hughes making it a solid test at trip. The french raiding party sat in behind this with Able friend seemingly content with his position further back in the field.
Approaching the two pole and joining the course proper the race was on, Night of Thunder ranged up on the nearside, but his effort seemed short lived having raced keenly in the early part of the contest, and Solow hit the front.
Pressed throughout the final furlong by Esoterique Solow had to work for his win and was kept honest all the way to the line, but in honesty was always holding the runner up and the staying on Cougar Mountain.
3.05pm Coventry Stakes
(Group 2 - 6f - Gd to Fm)
Mark Johnston has had a remarkable start to the season with his two year olds and was represented here by no less than three runners. Buratino had been an easy winner of the Woodcote Stakes on Derby Day last time out and was the most fancied of the trio.
He was up against a strong Irish challenge in the shape of the solid favourite Round Two and the well supported Air Force Blue.
Initially splitting into two groups with a number of runners taking a keen hold in behind the leaders. Passing the halfway point the field got very tight and it was here War Department lost all chance, stumbling and nearly coming down he was allowed to sensibly coast home in his own time.
Round Two this time was unable to quicken and it was quiclky apparent he was not going to play a part in the finish, but the two that came rushing through from the back were Air Force Blue and Buratino.
There was a moment where it looked like Ryan Moore had stolen a length but Buratino had not used all the gears and readily outpaced his contemporary to draw impressively clear just inside the final furlong.
3.40pm Kings Stand Stakes
(Group 1 - 5f - Gd to Fm)
Sole Power has made this race his own in recent times taking the last two runnings of the race and in the process halting a domination by Australian trained sprinters.
He was back this year for a hattrick bid but there was a number of up and coming sprinters against him.
Muthmir had come through the handicap ranks last season the highlight being a devastating victory in The Portland and he had won a French Group 2 last time out and ranked the main danger in the market.
But Robert Cowell had other ideas. Goldream had won the Palace House Stakes earlier in the year at the Newmarket Guineas meeting before failing to fire for some reason in the Temple Stakes at Haydock. He came to the race a rather unconsidered 20/1 shot but did not run like one, tracking the leaders he went second just over a fulrong out as the pace started to break down.
Medicean Man had gone for home and looked like the winner but Martin Harley kept pumping away and produced a strong challenge in the run to the line that Medicean Man found impossible to resist.
A short head was the winning distance with Muthmir back in third. Pearl Secret ran a cracker on ground he would have not been at his best on and Sole Power was hot on there heels in fifth but just didnt have the legs to peg them back on this occasion.
4.20pm St James's Palace Stakes
(Group 1 - 1m - Gd to Fm)
The miling championship event for 3yo Colts and it featured the winner of the French Guineas in Make Believe and the dual classic winning Gleneagles.
Make Believe had beaten the impresive Prix Du Jockey Club winner New Bay in the French Guineas where he had made the running but on this occasion it was the lightly raced Consort who took them along under Frankie Dettori. The pace lifted turning into the straight and Consort stole a march.
Ryan Moore didn't really seemed too flustered, he sent Gleneagles out after the leader and presumably he knew what he was chasing down having won on him at Sandown last time. He eased out and under a hand ride cut back the deficit in what seemed to be a matter of strides.
The race was over as a contest and it was left to the Godolphin outsider Latharnach to follow him home with Make Believe trailing home a distant last.
Superlatives would not do the performance just, it was just one of those "yep I was there for that" moments that lives in the memory for all of those lucky enough to be there.
5.00pm Ascot Stakes
(Class 2 Handicap - 2m4f - Gd to Fm)
A tricky race for anyone with the draw, followed by traffic problems in a big field. That is why Ryan Moore is widely recognised as the best in the world. He was drawn on the High Street in this on the favourite Clondaw Warrior yet as soon as the gates went back he dropped anchor switched right and judged the rest to perfection.
Making headway on the wide outside he hit the front over a furlong out and despite edging right ran on well to take the spoils from Fun Mac and Richard Hughes
5.35pm Windsor Castle Stakes
(Listed Race - 5f - Gd to Fm)
A burn up with the ridiculously speedy Ruby Notion scorching off in front it seemed like only a matter of time before the grinding straight track wore her down.
It took the others until the furlong pole to get her back and it was that man again Ryan Moore who was perfecly placed on Washington DC. He was hard pressed in the final 50yds by the on rushing Areen and Jamie Spencer but he always looked likely to hold on giving his pilot a 54/1 treble on the first day.