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Royal Ascot: Toronado stars on opening day

By Alysen Miller, CNN
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
Each year as mnay as 300,000 punters converge on the affluent English village of Ascot for some spectacular racing... Each year as mnay as 300,000 punters converge on the affluent English village of Ascot for some spectacular racing...
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World famous Ascot Festival began Tuesday
  • Toronado wins Queen Anne Stakes
  • The Wow Signal won the Coventry Stakes
  • Kingman wins St James's Palace Stakes

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(CNN) -- The biggest sporting event on the globe may be taking place in Brazil at the World Cup, but try telling that to Royal Ascot.

The Royal Meeting kicked off today in typically grandiose style, amid a flurry of hats and horses.

The traditional curtain-raiser is the Group One Queen Anne Stakes, a race won so memorably in recent years by Frankel.

This year saw an international field which would not have looked out of the place in Brazil, with runners hailing from France, South Africa and the United States as well as the UK and Ireland.

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The race was won by hot favorite Toronado, giving trainer Richard Hannon Jr. his first Royal Ascot winner in his first season with a license having taken over from his father over the winter.

In the Coventry Stakes, Frankie Dettori secured his 48th victory at Ascot by riding The Wow Signal home -- his first win at the course for two years.

"It's important to start the meeting well, it's been a few years since my last winner here, but I'm getting close to 50 now," he told reporters.

Elsewhere, Sole Power sprinted to a second consecutive victory in the King's Stand Stakes.

The seven-year-old, ridden by Richard Hughes, claimed a comfortable victory to underline his class.

The day's feature race, the St James's Palace Stakes, was billed as a rematch between the John Gosden-trained Kingman, at one time regarded as a worthy successor to Frankel for owner Khalid Abdullah, and surprise 2,000 Guineas winner Night of Thunder.

In the event, the race did not disappoint, with Kingman reversing the Guineas result with a devastating victory under James Doyle; a suitably regal victory on the opening day of a meeting as recognized for its pomp off the track as the racing on it.

This meeting traces its ancestry back to 1711, when Sir William Wyndham, Master of the Royal Buckhounds, was ordered by his monarch to clear Ascot Heath in preparation for a horse race.

The bond between this racecourse and royalty runs deep: the Queen herself typically attends all five days, arriving by horse-drawn carriage from Windsor Castle.

The Queen's arrival is the subject of as much fascination as the racing itself, with bookies taking bets on the color of her hat.

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