The Grand National fences have been altered substantially in recent years. In some cases the height has been slightly reduced, in other cases the drop on the landing side has been levelled off, and in all cases the internal construction has changed from wooden stakes to a synthetic core.
Royal Ascot is legendary in the horseracing world. Never is the United Kingdom so British. Nowhere else are so many top hats and Rolls-Royce cars to be seen. Nowhere else are so many lobsters and glasses of champagne served.
In the summer of 1994 Jon Franklin and three work colleagues from a William Hill betting shop drove down from London to the Glorious Goodwood race meeting ob the south coast of England.
Highclere is a name that has a certain ring to it. Highclere Castle is one of the truly classic British homes, located just outside the racing town of Newbury between London and Oxford.
Royal Ascot is always that … Royal.
But never was it more Royal than 2012.
We don’t talk about the fact that Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee after 60 years on the British throne.
Formula 1 cars. Soccer teams. Corporations. Everyone’s got identifying colours today. But the tradition of colours may be the oldest in horse racing. Racing authorities require that every horse owner registers a unique colour-and-pattern combination, called silks.
When Milan-born jockey Lanfranco Dettori arrived at Ascot racecourse on 28 September 1996, he was quite well known in the British domestic racing scene and had been Anglicized to the more familiar ‘Frankie.’ Nevertheless, on the international racing stage he was still merely in consideration for a minor role.
It’s early morning in Newmarket, 60 miles from London. The town is awakening. Hardly any traffic – maybe one or two garbage trucks. And a couple of blocks from the main street, 35 racehorses walk across a pedestrian crossing.