Royal Ascot 2024 Review

Another brilliant Royal Ascot has come and gone and following on from another brilliant week of racing there were plenty of talking points.

With the focus now on the summer’s remaining festivals and with the Breeders’ Cup slowly looming into view, in this article let’s look back at some of the highlights from one of the best racing weeks of the year and discuss who had a week to remember and who ended up having a week to forget.

Ryan Moore

It could be argued that no jockey in the paddock gets as tough a time as Ryan Moore. Having raced for some of the best trainers in the business for years, Moore’s quiet and unassuming nature often make him an easy target.

A three time Champion Jockey, Moore has also been crowned as the world’s best jockey on two further occasions. With over 170 wins at the very highest level, it's fair to say that heading into Royal Ascot no jockey is expected to win races like Moore. 

The stable jockey for the all-conquering Coolmore operation, winning races at Ascot isn’t easy but this year Moore certainly made it look that way.

Often criticised for being weak in the finish, Moore was as strong as a bull in several races – most notably when guiding Kyprios to a second Ascot Gold Cup victory.

With Frankie Dettori staying away from Ascot this year, Moore moved into second place on the all-time Royal Ascot winner list. 

Over the past few years, Moore has shown time and time again that he simply knows how to win the biggest races and with yet another Royal Ascot jockey’s title in the bag, few would bet against him closing the gap to Lester Piggott at the top even further.

Aiden O’Brien

Similarly to Ryan Moore, Aiden O’Brien experiences a different kind of pressure when it comes to Royal Ascot.

Usually starting the week as a lock to be crowned the best trainer of the week, after a slow start where he didn’t train any winners of the first seven races, O’Brien bounced back with a vengeance on Wednesday and Thursday with Illinois, Auguste Rodin, Port Fairy and Kyprios all finding themselves in the winner’s circle.

A quiet Friday would follow, but on the final day of racing, Bedtime Story would go on to produce one of the best performances we have ever seen at the Royal Meeting to ensure that O’Brien would leave Royal Ascot with yet another trainer’s title.

With a win in the Derby and five winners across Royal Ascot, O’Brien has enjoyed a wonderful start to the 2024 flat season. 

The leading figure for Coolmoore, it could be argued that O’Brien currently has the most impressive horses he has ever trained and with such a depth of talent there will be no let up.

Likely to head to the last Classic of the year, the St Leger, with an incredibly strong hand, success on American soil will also be high on the priority list, with all eyes set on further glory at the 2024 Breeders’ Cup.

Aiden O’Brien

Willie Mullins

After conquering all before him in the jumping sphere, Willie Mullins once again proved that he is one of the best trainers in the sport as he notched yet another Royal winner. 

Over the last decade Mullins has forged a fearsome reputation at this meeting, and has enjoyed tremendous success in both the Ascot Stakes and Copper Horse Handicap.

The most successful trainer in Cheltenham Festival history, the one race that Mullins covets the most of all is the Royal Ascot Gold Cup and he almost landed the biggest race of his flat career this year when Vauban produced a fine run to finish third.

Despite his huge success, Mullins is showing no signs of slowing down and will have his eyes on the Gold Cup once again next year. Arguably the greatest trainer we have ever seen, Mullins’s name will long remain associated with the sport and we should cherish these years where we get to witness his greatness.

Billy Loughnane

For years, the odds across numerous horse racing betting sites for all the big races have been dominated by old hands such as Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori, Tom Marquand, Hollie Doyle and Jim Crowley. With these stars dominating the top end of the sport, many have been wondering who from the next generation could come in and muscle their way in on the action.

That question went a long way towards being answered at this year’s Royal Meeting with the emergence of Billy Loughnane. At just 18, Loughnane showed why he is so highly regarded and why so many are tipping him to one day become one of the most sought-after jockeys in the paddock.

After producing a superb ride to guide home 80-1 shot Rashabar in the Coventry Stakes, Loughnane would then go onto land a second winner of the week when narrowly edging out the rest of the field in the Sandringham Stakes with Soprano.

Due to his stylish performances, the excitement surrounding Loughnane will continue to grow, and you can be assured that his will be a name that we will become accustomed to seeing on the Ascot stage for many years to come.

Billy Loughnane

Charlie Appleby

Across the many Royal Ascot previews, the one trainer who many believed had the force to serve it up to Aiden O’Brien and his stable was Charlie Appleby.

Appleby, who represents Godolphin, has trained winners all over the world, but for some reason at Royal Ascot his star-studded string failed to fire.

With many favourites including the 2000 Guineas winner Notable Speech running poorly, it’s a case of back to the drawing board for Appleby, who for the first time in his career with Godolphin went without training a winner at the Royal meeting. He will want to bounce back later in the year at the Breeders Cup. A meeting where he has enjoyed fantastic success in the past, look for Appleby to bounce back from this poor week and end the year in strong fashion.

The Meeting Itself

Royal Ascot organisers would have been worried heading into this year’s event. With the festival taking place in the heart of Euro 2024 and with the UK still very much in the heart of a cost of living crisis, there would have been fears that crowds and attendances both at home and on the racecourse could have suffered.

Instead, this year’s Royal Ascot was an undoubted success. Over a million people watched each day of the meeting at home and across the week over 200,000 descended on the Berkshire course.

Despite lasting five days, every race at the meeting is highly anticipated and with the amount of Group 1 races perfectly pitched, Royal Ascot still is the benchmark for other festivals to follow.

The festival is growing year on year and next year’s promises to be even better.