Ascot, the Royal Race Course

Grande Dame, winner of the Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day British EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes, under Ryan Moore. Image of horses racing on grass at Ascot with the race stands behind them

Ascot, the royal race course …

Explore the captivating elements that contribute to the greatness of Ascot racecourse, including its esteemed event, Royal Ascot, in our featured article here.

UK horse racing is great, there is no doubt about that. That doesn’t mean that all courses are equally famous or well-regarded. Ascot Racecourse, located in Berkshire, is renowned for several reasons, which contribute to its greatness and popularity. Ascot Racecourse is located in Berkshire, England, and has a history that can be traced back over three hundred years.

As a racing venue, Ascot was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne and has become potentially the most recognised racing venue of British horse racing and horse racing culture. The heritage, tradition and royal association with Ascot races add a sense of prestige and grandeur to the events. All that said, there is one meeting that is the absolute pinnacle of UK horse racing… Royal Ascot.

The Royal Ascot meeting held annually in June is a highlight of the British social calendar. It attracts members of the royal family, celebrities, and high-profile and high-net-worth individuals, adding a unique and glamorous atmosphere. The presence of royalty and the strict dress code, especially in the Royal Enclosure, contribute to the sense of occasion and elegance. Ascot’s dress code is very prescriptive and well-defined. Ascot Racecourse even provides a guide on acceptable dress codes, varying by location and enclosure. The dress code even demands that gentlemen wear socks!

Pre Parade Ring at Ascot with a thoroughbred being walked in hand surrounded by flowers
Pre Parade Ring at Ascot – image courtesy of Ascot

Why you should visit Ascot

Alongside the formal nature of some of the Ascot race meetings, there is an underlying and well-recognised additions not found in other UK racing establishments:

  1. Fashion and Style: Ascot races are known for their fashion-forward atmosphere. Attendees, particularly women, put a great deal of effort into their outfits, showcasing elegant dresses, extravagant hats, and stylish accessories. The fashion element adds a unique flair to the races and contributes to the overall spectacle.
  2. International Appeal: Ascot races attract a diverse range of participants and spectators from around the world. The events draw global attention, with horses, trainers, and jockeys coming from various countries to compete. This international aspect adds a sense of competitiveness and showcases the global nature of horse racing.
  3. Atmosphere and Spectacle: Ascot Racecourse offers a picturesque setting with its well-maintained grounds and great views. Ideal for that “I was here” post! The overall atmosphere during the races is electric, as the crowd cheers on their favourite horses and experiences the thrill of the sport. The singing of the national anthem, the parade of horses, and the lively betting makes it a day to remember.
  4. Social Experience: Ascot races provide an opportunity for people to come together and socialize. Whether it’s enjoying a day out with friends, entertaining clients, or engaging in business networking, the races offer a vibrant and convivial environment. The presence of luxurious hospitality options, fine dining, and champagne bars adds to the overall social experience.
Fashion at Ascot a rose red William Chambers Millinery Collection hat - image courtesy of Ascot
William Chambers Millinery Collection – image courtesy of Ascot

What races take place during Royal Ascot.

The meeting is spread over five days and features a range of race types and distances. Some of the highlights include:

  1. Queen Anne Stakes: A Group 1 race run over 1 mile, open to horses aged four and older. It traditionally kicks off the Royal Ascot meeting and is known for attracting top-class milers.
  2. King’s Stand Stakes: A Group 1 race run over 5 furlongs, open to horses aged three and older. This sprint race features some of the fastest horses in the world, and it often attracts international contenders.
  3. Prince of Wales’s Stakes: A Group 1 race run over 1 mile and 2 furlongs, open to horses aged four and older. It is considered one of the key middle-distance races of the meeting and has seen many notable champions compete.
  4. Gold Cup: A Group 1 race run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, open to horses aged four and older. This is one of the most prestigious long-distance races in the world and is often referred to as the “Ascot Gold Cup.” It is known for its rich history and the crowning of the “Stayer” champion.
  5. Coronation Stakes: A Group 1 race run over 1 mile, open to three-year-old fillies. It is considered one of the premier races for three-year-old fillies and often attracts some of the best female horses in training.
  6. Diamond Jubilee Stakes: A Group 1 race run over 6 furlongs, open to horses aged four and older. This sprint race is one of the most highly anticipated events of the meeting and has seen many champion sprinters battle for victory.

These factors, combined with the sense of history, the quality of racing, the fashion, and the unique atmosphere, make Ascot and especially the Royal Ascot race meeting highly regarded and cherished by racing enthusiasts and spectators alike.

Feature image Grande Dame, winner of the Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes, under Ryan Moore.

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