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Sir Cliff not rock 'n' roll enough for Fanshawe; Peter Thomas on how pop royalty and a real monarch find it's better to give than receive in Royal Ascot's winner's enclosure.

Byline: Peter Thomas

IT MUST say something about the royal meeting - although I'm not entirely sure what - that the biggest cheer of the day on this biggest day of the week was reserved for Sir Cliff Richard. The combined brains of British racing's marketing arm spend untold riches trying to tempt a nation's youth to plonk their spotty bottoms on the seats of our grandstands, and along comes the Peter Pan of Pop to render the entire campaign null and void.

Instead, we end up with the matrons of Middle England harking back fondly to the days of Livin' Doll, while their offspring cringe with embarrassment and the PR men dream wistfully of a time when Rihanna will present the Wokingham winner's trophy to Lady Gaga.

In truth, James Fanshawe would probably have preferred to receive his trainer's memento from somebody a little more feS rociously rock 'n' roll than Cliff. Eminem would possible have struggled to get past the men in the bowler hats, but Bob Dylan could surely have made the gig, even though he's just turned 70.

No matter, a Wokingham is a Wokingham and the decisive success of Deacon Blues had Newmarket's most committed music fan singing a happy tune, even if it wasn't quite the same as picking up the Group 1 Golden Jubilee prize from Her Majesty, which he'd done barely 40 minutes earlier.

Ascot's straight course, as the lofty trainer pointed out, has always been a happy hunting ground for him, and with both Society Rock and Deacon Blues, it was a case of keeping to a tried-and-trusted formula, using his finest asset, the kind of patience that would make Job look like a hair-trigger man, and applying it in liberal measure at a venue he knows like the back catalogue of Radiohead.

Of course, that kind of long game requires owners who are kindred spirits, and in Simon Gibson, Fanshawe has a patron who is plainly prepared to wait for the good things in sport to come along. Sadly, while he was waiting for Society Rock to recover the form that saw him finish second in last year's Golden Jubilee, he fell down the stairs and bumped his head, meaning he missed his big moment with Her Maj, but there's always next year.

The Hoppers and the Morrises, who pay the bills for Deacon Blues, seemingly arrived in such numbers that they couldn't all fit into the winner's enclosure, which meant there was a lot of raucous hollering from the steppings, of the kind that was once punishable by hanging from the highest turret of Windsor Castle, but which today was welcomed as an antidote to the sometimes low-key reception afforded winners at this hallowed venue.

Fanshawe, not a restful man at the best of times, seemed unnerved by the primal scream emitted by Johnny Murtagh as he returned to the paddock, and looked as if he'd been wired to the Berkshire mains as he explained how swiftly Deacon Blues had been travelling at home and how a gelding operation had improved his performance no end.

Perhaps if the poor beast had been travelling even more swiftly, he'd have escaped the man with the big shears and hung on to his wedding tackle, but it's an ill wind, as they say, and nobody connected with Pegasus Stables seemed to be mourning the loss of two superfluous equine plums.

FANSHAWE'S double arrived just as it seemed the day would be run away with by Aidan O'Brien, who had whisked away the first two prizes with Maybe and Await The Dawn, earning himself diverse audiences with Princess Eugenie and Martin Clunes in the process. It was a shame, in the sense that I'd been looking forward to O'Brien being introduced to the Queen and addressing her with a trademark "Yeah, no, listen, yer Majesty" and receiving a frosty glare for his trouble. I don't suppose the jug-eared star of Men Behaving Badly is as fussy about protocol as the reigning monarch.

Aidan himself seemed uncharacteristically animated - although not reaching the foothills of the Fanshawe scale - as he discussed the Hardwicke victory of Await The Dawn, whom he hailed, with a persistent smile, as a horse who had long inspired dreams of a Breeders' Cup Classic, "although I hoped nobody would mention it today".

I don't think anybody had, before Aidan did, but it may be a hint worth taking.

Silvestre De Sousa could have been forgiven an attack of the heebie-jeebies at the prospect of meeting Gai Waterhouse, the eccentric Aussie trainer who was due to present the prize for the Duke of Edinburgh, but there was no sign of reluctance as the young Brazilian Yorkshireman continued his climb to the top of the riding ranks on Mark Johnston's Fox Hunt, in the familiar green-and-red silks of Shiekh Mo's lad, Hamdan.

Two winners for the week is a good haul by anybody's standards, even if not enough to wrest the yellow armband from Ryan Moore, and if few of the 77,000 crowd had heard of De Sousa yesterday, there's a good chance a few more will know his face in 12 months' time.


Jacko Fanshawe (right, in white) rushes to greet husband James and Society Rock and Pat Cosgrave following the Golden Jubilee Stakes
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 19, 2011
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