Guide to Royal Ascot

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Contents

  • The Meeting
  • Royal Ascot 2017
  • Perpetual Races
  • Group 1 Races
  • The Royal Enclosure
  • Royal Ascot Records
  • Trivia
  • Getting to Ascot
  • Further Reading
  • This year, the opening day is Tuesday the 20th of June 2017.

Located just six miles from historic Windsor Castle, Ascot is a favourite with royals and horse racing fans alike. Though meetings are held at the courses throughout the year, it’s in June with Royal Ascot that the crowds are really drawn in.

Founded by Queen Anne in 1711, it’s not only one of the biggest events in the racing calendar, it’s also one of biggest social and media events of the year, thanks largely to the high profile attendees, including the Queen and the Prince of Wales amongst others. More than 300,000 people flock to the event each year making it one of the most popular race meetings in the world. Plus, the meet also includes some of the biggest events on the British flat racing calendar, including several prestigious Group 1 races such as the Ascot Gold Cup.

In this guide we run you through all you need to know about Royal Ascot, its races and traditions.

The Meeting

The meeting takes place over five days, running from Tuesday to Saturday in the second half of June. Though the gates open at 10.30am each day, there is no racing until 2.30 in the afternoon. The last race of the day is at 5.35pm.

Each day’s action is proceeded by the Royal Procession. This takes place at 2.00pm and is quite a spectacle, with the Queen and other royals making their way to the ground via carriage with all the pomp and circumstance that you might expect. It sets the tone of the day quite nicely, and for many people who tune in to watch on TV, seeing Her Majesty arrive at Ascot is the highlight.

As well as starting the same way, each day of the meet also ends the same way, with crowds gathering to sing around the bandstand after the last race of the day.

When it comes to the actual racing, Ascot is a different sort of meet to the other high profile events on the racing calendar. Whilst the Cheltenham Festival and The Grand National meeting only feature a few flat races, with emphasis being on steeple chases and hurdle events, at Ascot ‘bumpers’ are the order of the day. This means the event is not associated with the same controversies as other courses on which horses are sometimes fatally injured when falling. That said, though the course is ‘flat’ in the sense that there aren’t any jumps, it isn’t actually a level track. Indeed, it is renowned for its challenging uphill section.

Thursday is regard as the peak of the meeting as it’s Ladies Day. You can expect to see everybody looking their very best especially in the headwear department. Whilst still formal, Saturday, by virtue of being the weekend, has a more relaxed feel as more families are able to attend.

Royal Ascot 2017

The 2017 Royal Ascot will start on Tuesday 20th June and run until Saturday 24th June.

As always, the meeting will attract huge crowds and generate huge amounts of media coverage. Plus, it will also be a massive hit with not only trackside bookmakers but also online sports betting sites as millions of people around the world have a flutter and try and make a bit of money on the action.

Tickets are often available right up until the end of the meeting, though if you want to enjoy the best view of the action (and be close to the Queen!) then you will definitely need to book your tickets as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.

For more information about the meeting and to book your ticket, visit the official Royal Ascot 2017 website and start organising your day at the races!

The Races

Of course, even if there’s a strong social aspect to it, the meeting is, first and foremost, a sporting event. There’s a packed card on each day of the event, including a range of famous and hotly contested races.

There are three ‘perpetual races’ that take place each year at Royal Ascot. In each of these races, the owner of the winning horse is allowed to keep the trophy they are presented with permanently.

The Gold Cup

The Gold Cup is one of the main prizes on offer at Ascot. Unlike other famous races like the Grand National and the big events at Cheltenham, it does not feature any obstacles. Instead the race lends itself to horses that, rather than jumping, are good at maintaining pace over distance. The race uses a flat course of two miles and four furlongs in length and is the most prestigious race of its kind. It’s open to thoroughbreds of at least four years in age. The race is held on the third day of the meet, which is Ladies Day.

The Ascot Gold Cup is the first of a trio of races for ‘stayers’ (horses whose main skill is endurance). Along with the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup it forms the ‘Stayers Triple Crown’, however, it’s a long while since any horse actually managed to pull of the feat of collecting the whole set. The last horse to manage the hat-trick was Double Triggerin 1995.

The Royal Hunt Cup

This race takes place over a course of one mile in length. The race is open to horses as young as three years old and, as well as being a flat race, is notable for its lack of bends, being a completely straight sprint to the finish. The race is handicapped, with the better horses carrying extra weight to help even out the field. From a punters point of view, this can make it harder to pick a winner.

The Queen’s Vase

This race takes its name from the fact the original trophy was a vase donated by Queen Victoria. It’s another flat race, but is of a lower quality the Gold Cup. It only has grade 3 status. The race is for three year old horses and is two miles long.

Group 1 Races

Aside from the perpetual races, there a range of other events that are equally if not more important.

Tuesday

2.30pm 20th June - The Queen Anne Stakes: This is the first race of the meeting and is a short, straight one mile affair. It’s for horses of at least four.

3.40pm 20th June - The King’s Stand Stakes: This race is just four furlongs long and is three years old and up. It acts as the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, a series of six races that take place across the world.

4.20pm 20th June - The St James’ Palace Stakes: This is the first day’s feature race and is another one fought over the course of the mile. It is for colts (male horses of three years of age).

Wednesday

4.20pm 21st June - The Prince of Wales Stake: This race is run over one mile and two furlongs and features horses of four years and older. It’s the only group one of the day but is seen by many as the key race of the whole meeting.

Thursday

4.20pm - The Gold Cup: The previously mentioned Gold Cup is the feature race on Ladies day and the only group one race on offer.

Friday

420pm - The Coronation Stakes: This one mile race is for three year old fillies (young female) and attracts the best European horses fitting that specification.

Saturday

4.20pm The Diamond Jubilee Stakes: One of the most important sprint races in the world, this acts as the second leg of The Global Sprint Challenge. It’s six furlongs long and features horses of both sexes older than three. With half a million pounds on offer for the winner, it’s the most valuable of all sprint races run in the UK.

The Royal Enclosure

The Royal Enclosure gets a lot of press attention given that it’s where the great and the good who come down to the meeting are to be found. It’s restricted to badge holders only, and only members of Ascot can apply for a badge, though if a member has been to the Royal Enclosure on four occasions or more they can nominate a none-member’s application for a badge. They can also bring guests with them on certain days of the meet.

There is a strict dress code for those who manage to get into the enclosure. Whilst ladies are required to wear day dresses of ‘modest length’ and straps that are at least on inch in width, men need to wear morning dress in either black or grey. Both sexes need to wear hats. In the case of the women it has to cover at least four inches and men need an unadorned top hat.

Picking a Winner

One of the most highly recommended methods experts recommend for picking winners at ascot is to look at horses that have won any one particular race in the past and see what common characteristics they might share. Finding horses in the field that match these could give you a good chance of winning. Factors you might look at as being indicators that a horse has the necessary credentials to be successful might include, their training, their age, their breeding and their form.

Looking back over the years and comparing as much evidence as possible, though time consuming, allows you to make a much more educated guess at which horse will win. Of course, it depends on your ability to identify relevant trends. For instance, a horse may have been trained by a master who’s produced nothing but winners, and at the same time, they be carrying a handicap that no other horse has managed to win with. It’s down to you to decide what is relevant and what can be overlooked. Of course, you can just have a bit of fun and pick a runner with reasonable odds and a good name!

If you've never made a bet before, check out this comprehensive guide to betting on horses and get off to a winning start today!

Records

Here’s a look at some of the records set at the Royal Ascot Meeting.

  • Yeats is the most successful horse in the history of the Gold Cup, having won it four times. The four wins were picked up one after the other in consecutive years from 2006-2009.
  • Lester Piggott is the most prolific Gold Cup jockey with 11 wins.
  • Only one horse has ever won the Royal Hunt Cup twice. Master Vote claimed back to back victories in 1947 and 48.
  • No horse has won the Queen’s Vase more than once. However, trainer Henry Cecil managed to produce eight different winners from 1972 to 1999. The prize’s full title is now ‘The Queen’s Vase in Memory of Henry Cecil’ in his honour.
  • Prince Charlie is the most successful horse in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, with three wins.
  • The highest point of the course, is 73 feet above the lowest, representing quite a climb for the runners.
  • It’s estimated that 50,000 meals are served during Royal Ascot. This includes 11,000 lobsters, 1.4 tons of beef and 185,000 bottles of bubbly.
  • The separate Royal Grand Stand was created after an embarrassing episode in which a sailor threw a rock at William IV within the Royal Enclosure.
  • The course is part of the Crown Estates and, as such, is property of the monarchy, hence the royal ties.
  • There is over £5 million in prize money on offer over the course of the meeting.
  • About 400 helicopters and a 1,000 limos make their way to Ascot each year.

Royal Ascot Trivia

  • The highest point of the course, is 73 feet above the lowest, representing quite a climb for the runners.
  • It’s estimated that 50,000 meals are served during Royal Ascot. This includes 11,000 lobsters, 1.4 tons of beef and 185,000 bottles of bubbly.
  • The separate Royal Grand Stand was created after an embarrassing episode in which a sailor threw a rock at William IV within the Royal Enclosure.
  • The course is part of the Crown Estates and, as such, is property of the monarchy, hence the royal ties.
  • There is over £5 million in prize money on offer over the course of the meeting.
  • About 400 helicopters and a 1,000 limos make their way to Ascot each year.

Getting to Ascot

If you’re planning on attending, Ascot is fairly easy to get to. Direct trains run directly from London, Reading and Guildford, and the track is only a short walk away. Many operators also run dedicated coach services direct to the track from various locations around the country.

If you’re driving from the South or the East, get onto M3 junction 3 and onto the A332 to Bracknell and the follow the signs to Ascot. If you’re approaching form the West, use M4 junction 10 to get on the A329 to Bracknell and the look for the signs to Ascot.

If you’re coming from the Midlands, use the M40 to get to junction 4 to get on the A404 and head towards the M4 toward London. At junction 6 join the A332 and follow the signs. If you’re coming from the North, again use the M4 to junction 6 to get on to the A332.

Further Reading

 

 

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