It is Britain’s most popular race meet and one of the world’s most famous racing carnivals. Held annually in June (17–21 this year), Royal Ascot dates back 300-plus years and is steeped in royalty, tradition and history.
Aussie travellers embrace racing fever at Royal Ascot, especially since our beloved mare, Black Caviar, won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012. And in the last decade four Australian-trained sprinters have won the famous King’s Stand Stakes.
Queen Anne, who saw the potential for a racecourse when out riding, founded royal Ascot in 1711. Since then, the meet has retained its royal air, attended by 11 monarchs.
Her Majesty the Queen has attended every day of Royal Ascot since 1945. The Queen and her guests enter the racecourse on horse-drawn carriages on each of the five days in front of more than 80,000 race goers.
A quintessential British experience, visitors to Royal Ascot can listen to the traditional singing of old British classics around the bandstand and see the waving of Union Jacks to the accompaniment of the military band.
Not just horsing about
Royal Ascot is not only about horse racing; in fact more attention is often paid to the fashions on the field. There are three levels of tickets for each day of Royal Ascot – Silver Ring tickets, Grandstand tickets and Royal Enclosure badges.
Silver Ring tickets are the cheapest option with no formal dress code making it a great option for the budget conscious while still experiencing the racing atmosphere. Grandstand tickets provide more access to facilities and entertainment including the military bands and traditional evening songs.
A right royal affair
The most prestigious of the three is the Royal Enclosure, which is visited by the Queen and Royal Family. Access is restricted and first-time racegoers must apply to the Royal Enclosure Office and gain membership from someone who has attended for at least four years. For existing badge holders, an invitation by Her Majesty’s Representatives to request badges is sent out. The dress code is strictly enforced in the Royal Enclosure including a top hat for men and appropriate length and style of dresses for women.
More than 300,000 people visit Berkshire during Royal Ascot, making it the largest attended race meeting in Europe. Racing highlights include the Golden Jubilee Stakes and the Gold Cup with over five million pounds in prize money on offer.
The opening day of Royal Ascot showcases the most prestigious races in the world – The Queen Anne Stakes, The King’s Stand Stakes and the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Considered by some as the most important race of the Royal Meeting, the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, established in 1862, is the drawcard for day two.
Known as Ladies Day, Gold Cup Day showcases the best of fashion with designer outfits and wonderful millinery creations on display.
Day four is the Coronation Stakes, which traditionally showcases the best three-year-old fillies in Europe.
The final day of Royal Ascot plays host to one of the world’s most important sprint races – The Diamond Jubilee Stakes. This day has more of a relaxed family feel, attended by those unable to make the week’s events.