Royal Ascot takes place over 5 days in mid-June every year and is a highlight of the racing calendar. While it is a social event, it is also the most valuable race meeting in Britain and many of the world’s finest racehorses, owners and jockeys gather to compete for more than £6.5 million in prize money. Horses which are now household names, such as Black Caviar, Yeats and Frankel, have been winners at past Royal Ascot meetings.
The most famous patron of Royal Ascot is Her Majesty The Queen and as a racehorse owner herself, this is an event she patently enjoys. The Queen always attends Royal Ascot and hasn’t missed a single Royal Procession during her reign. The Queen has also triumphed at the event when in 2013 her horse, Estimate, won the Gold Cup.
The fashion at Royal Ascot always makes a statement and you regularly see it featured in the media, particularly on Ladies Day. During 2016 Vogue ran a live timeline featuring the dress of the Royal party and race-goers.
Hats and fascinators are a big part of the event for ladies and often themed outfits make an appearance. Notable ones this year centred on the Referendum debate.
There is a strict dress-code depending on which enclosure you want to attend, however. The Royal Enclosure calls for formal daywear for ladies and either black or grey morning dress for gentlemen. Unfortunately, if you aren’t suitably attired, you won’t gain access. It is less strict in the Windsor Enclosure where, while no dress code is prescribed, attendees are still encouraged to wear smart clothes.
Food and Drink
Royal Ascot is at heart a social event and therefore food and drink play a big part in everyone’s enjoyment. When you think that more than 300,000 people attend the event over the five days it is perhaps unsurprising than 51,000 bottles of champagne and 160,000 glasses of Pimms are drunk.
Fine dining and private hospitality boxes are available at the event and the racecourse prides itself on the quality of the food and service on offer. You can choose from a wide range of Michelin-Starred and à la carte menus, the latter designed by an in-house award-winning team. With 5,000 kilos of salmon, 2,400 kilos of beef sirloin and 2,900 lobsters being consumed every year, you get an inkling of the scale involved.
Racing is held every day during the 5 days of the event and there is a different highlight daily. Tuesday is opening day and the Queen Anne Stakes is run, named after Ascot racecourse’s founder who established the course in 1711. Thursday is Gold Cup Day and the finale on the Saturday is the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The most successful jockey to date in this race is Lester Piggott and Vincent O’Brien is its most successful trainer. It offers a prize of £600,000 for the winning owner.
Getting to Royal Ascot
Ascot is based in the heart of the Berkshire countryside and is accessible by road on the M3, M4, M40, and M25 depending on which direction you are coming from and there is extensive parking available at the event. If you think you will be enjoying a glass or two of Pimms the safer option is to book a limo or to travel by train direct to Ascot station, which is about 50 minutes from central London. If you want to arrive in style, then why not charter a helicopter. You won’t be alone as around 400 helicopters arrive at the event every year.
Royal Ascot is definitely worth booking into your diary as it is a highlight of the social calendar. Whether you want to attend for the racing or just to have a great day out, you won’t be disappointed.