Royal Ascot is Britain’s most valuable race meeting, attracting many of the world’s finest horses to compete for more than £5.5 million in prize money.
Its 18 Group races, eight of them in Group One, have made legends of the finest thoroughbreds such as Black Caviar, Frankel and Yeats.
But the royal connection is what gives Ascot its prestige.
Royal Ascot in June is the centrepiece of Ascot’s year and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne.
And that link has continued.
In 2013, The Queen watched her horse, Estimate, triumph in the Gold Cup. That success was followed in 2016 by Dartmouth’s superb victory in the Hardwicke Stakes on the final day of Royal Ascot.
A dedicated racehorse owner, she has attended every Royal Meeting during her reign and the Royal Procession is always an iconic moment to herald the start of every raceday.
Members of the Royal Family such as The Prince of Wales parade in a horse-drawn carriage with the raising of the Queen’s Royal Standard to follow.
Indeed, Royal Ascot is a major event in the British social calendar. Media coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing.
It is a whirlwind of excitement and colour. Each day has its own personality, interspersed with six top-class races.
There are three enclosures, each with their own characteristics, attended by guests on Royal Ascot week.
The Royal Enclosure is a beautiful space transformed entirely for the Royal meeting and membership is by invitation only.
On the lawns and terraces of the Queen Anne Enclosure (which has replaced the Grandstand Enclosure), you can enjoy first-rate views of the day’s races, joining the jubilant crowds as they cheer each winner home. Here you will be at the heart of the day’s activity. Close to the runners and riders in the Pre-Parade and Parade Ring, and in the front row as the Royal Procession passes by.
The Windsor Enclosure is the most vibrant enclosure. It is here where the roar of the crowd begins in earnest, as the horses race past on their way down the final straight.
Hospitality is magnificent.
Fine dining is everywhere offering the opportunity to add a touch of decadence to the day – excellent food and a backdrop only Ascot can deliver.
With uninterrupted views across the racecourse, a private box, one of 247, offers an intimate environment from which to watch while celebrating in style.
There are more than 100 bars and food outlets around the racecourse, while 39 kitchens operate during Royal Ascot.
During the five days, racegoers consume 51,000 bottles of champagne, 160,000 glasses of Pimm’s, 131,000 pints of beer, 42,000 bottles of wine, 5,000 kilos of salmon, 7,000 Cornish and Folkestone crabs, 2,900 lobsters, 2,400 kilos of beef sirloin, 3,700 rumps of English lamb, 10,000 Angus steaks, 1000kg of Cornish clotted cream, 35,000 spears of English asparagus, 50,000 macaroons, 7,000 punnets of berries and 30,000 chocolate choux éclairs.
Ascot is a right handed course, slightly in excess of 1 mile, 6 furlongs.
It stages twenty-six days of racing over the course of the year, comprising eighteen flat meetings held between May and October. It also enjoys important jump racing throughout the winter months.
The most prestigious race is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes run over the course in July.
Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, helped by 400 helicopters and 1,000 limos, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting.
Ascot Racecourse is visited by over 500,000 racegoers a year, accounting for ten per cent of the UK total.