Belfast Telegraph

Royal Ascot 2014 all mad hats and high heels as ladies vie in fashion stakes

Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot has seen thousands flood through the turnstyles - donning everything from giant butterflies to art easels on top of their heads.

In the contest to be the maddest hatter at the famous Berkshire racecourse, women turned up draped in all manner of finery in an effort to grab the attention of the paparazzi.

And while the Ascot dress code was tightened up in 2012, it clearly hasn't stamped out the attendees' creativity.

A Chinese dragon, a giant sunflower, a globe and horses heads made out of lace were among the wacky items perched atop ladies' heads.

A new trend for 2014, some were sporting 3D printed hats of all shapes and colours.

For the bookmakers, battered almost to a pulp over the first day and a half, Treve's defeat in the Prince of Wales's Stakes came as a blessed relief. For almost everybody else, it was deflation – it's always sad to see a great champion knocked over.

The Fugue, another high-class filly with three Group One victories already under her belt but rated 7lb inferior to Treve, proved better suited to the distance of 10 furlongs and ground baked quicker than the official description of "good", producing a track record.

It had all seemed so promising for last autumn's sensational Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner. Treve's trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, making her first visit to Royal Ascot from her Chantilly base for 19 years, suspected that the trip might be short of ideal, but was still confident that the horse would run her race and was offering no excuses in advance.

Frankie Dettori, however, reported later that he had concerns even as he cantered the French darling down to the start – "her action was short and choppy, this wasn't the Treve we all know".

Head-Maarek was talking pre-race about returning to Ascot for the King George, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes next month before having another crack at the Arc, but the immediate concern afterwards was to get Treve home and check her over.

''I was not happy with the way she was moving," she said.

"Maybe we'll find something wrong. Horses, they're not easy, eh? But we have lost the battle, not the war."

The Fugue, in command throughout the last furlong after taking over from runner-up Magician, was a second massive result of the week for trainer John Gosden, still buzzing after Kingman's opening-day heroics.

It did not surprise him greatly: "Treve is a wonderful filly and I wouldn't want to take her on in the Arc on soft. But Ascot on summer ground is another thing. The Fugue has feet like a ballerina, so these are her conditions."

This was the first time that The Fugue has been watched in the flesh by owner Lord Lloyd-Webber, whose friends and family again tried to persuade him to stay at home, this time in vain, though this was a jinx that never was. Likely next stop for both horse and owner: York and the Juddmonte Stakes.

Earlier, Kingman received another compliment, not that he really needed one, when Mustajeeb, a thrashed third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, landed the opening Jersey Stakes.

Anthem Alexander, like Mustajeeb also ridden by Pat Smullen was another heavily backed winning favourite in the Queen Mary Stakes.

"This place has always been very lucky for me," reflected trainer Dermot Weld after Mustajeeb's success in the Jersey Stakes.

With 16 Royal Ascot victories now in safe-keeping for the Curragh handler, fortune surely tells just a small part of the story.

Weld said: "Kingman is an outstanding miler and we were beaten fair and square in the Irish Guineas.

"This colt really appreciated the better ground, I thought he'd win and he did it well.

"He's a very genuine, tough, nice colt. He's a home-bred horse and it's lovely for Sheikh Hamdan to have the one-two.

"He's a good Group winner over a mile and he'll probably go back to a mile in the future.

"We might meet (Kingman) again later in the year, I'll speak with Sheikh Hamdan, but I doubt it will be in the Sussex Stakes."

Smullen had doubled up when Anthem Alexander claimed the Queen Mary Stakes for Meath trainer Eddie Lynam, who won back-to-back renewals of the King's Stand Stakes with the talented Sole Power on the opening day.

Lynam said: "She's a very good filly and I think she will improve a lot from that.

"She could go for the Cherry Hinton (Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket)."

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