Great British Drama

To celebrate Royal Ascot 2014, Ascot Racecourse commissioned artist and member of the Royal Academy, David Mach. The collage was unveiled at the Royal Academy earlier this year by jockey Johnny Murtagh and Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. Mach, who has received much critical acclaim for his unique collages, was given access to approximately 4,000 photos taken from the event over several decades.

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From this he selected more than 200 to create the piece, which measures six feet by five feet.

Charles Barnett, Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse, said: “This is a captivating snapshot of Royal Ascot past and present. We wanted to bring to life some of the wonderful stories across world-class racing, pageantry and fine dining, which together create the Great British Drama of Royal Ascot. We feel David has captured perfectly the verve and vibrancy of our historic event.”

While Mach consulted Ascot on which individuals should appear in the collage to represent Ascot, Mach was left to exercise his own artistic licence. He explains: “Royal Ascot was a particular challenge – how to get the social and joyous essence of the British into one action still? It is an exuberant and celebratory image of a sport that combines us all. We dress beautifully at Ascot, we make an effort. It’s Britain at its ‘can do’ best.”

The collage will be on display throughout Royal Ascot before being auctioned off to the highest bidder. A limited number of prints will be produced that will also go on sale.

David Mach – Great British Drama for Royal Ascot from Antidote on Vimeo.

At the centre of the collage are six equine champions of the modern era. Leading this fictional race is Estimate, the 2013 Gold Cup winner belonging to Her Majesty The Queen. In the background you can see the Royal Procession, a defining image of Royal Ascot.

Behind Estimate the horses include: legendary four times Gold Cup winner Yeats; Dawn Approach, the winner of the 2013 St James’s Palace Stakes; Canford Cliffs, who won championship races at Royal Ascot at the ages of two, three and four; and Black Caviar, the Australian wonder-mare who remained undefeated in 25 races. Then possibly the ultimate racehorse of all time, Frankel, who also remained unbeaten throughout his racing career. Past champions and record holders from other eras are celebrated too with the presence of Brown Jack (1928 to 1934); Sagaro (1970s); and the great rivals Le Moss and Ardross, who dominated the Gold Cup between 1979 and 1982.

The characters surrounding this fictional race include Sir Henry Cecil, who trained 75 Royal Ascot winners including Frankel, Le Moss and Ardross, a record unlikely to be surpassed. Other trainers included are Aidan O’Brien and Wesley Ward from the USA, who holds the record for most successes by a trainer from outside Europe.Everyone’s favourite presenter, Clare Balding, is featured. Representing the sumptuous fine dining available at Royal Ascot is chef Tom Kerridge, who operates from the On 5 restaurant this year.

The collage would not be complete without depicting the tradition of the Greencoats and, of course, all manner of racegoers are present, including ladies in hats and high fashion. They are dressed to suit the sense of occasion and demonstrate the vibrancy and multi-faceted nature of Ascot. Above all the collage depicts everyone enjoying the drama of one of the truly Great British events.

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