The Ultimate Guide to: Royal Ascot
Everything you need to know about attending Royal Ascot as well as the history and heritage of the world's most prestigious race meeting at Ascot Racecourse
January 11, 2024
Royal Ascot is without question, one of the worlds most prestigious and attended horse racing events. Known for its rich history and royal connections, Royal Ascot attracts top-class thoroughbreds, jockeys, and horse racing enthusiasts from around the world.
As the name suggests, the British Royal Family typically turns out in full force to attend the popular event. Each day of the week begins with the Royal Procession, where members of the Royal Family arrive along the track in horse-drawn landaus. They then spend the day watching the races from the Royal Enclosure.
Over the years, the event has become synonymous with high fashion and is a showcase for elegant attire. With its royal patronage and top-tier racing action, Royal Ascot is a highlight of the British social calendar and an unmissable experience for anyone looking to enjoy a day of glamour and horse racing excellence. But how did it all start?
A Look Back on How it all Began
The first recorded race at Ascot took place in 1711, and it was organized by Queen Anne. The event, known as “Her Majesty’s Plate,” was held at a location then called “East Cote” or “Ascot Heath.” The winner of this inaugural race was a horse named “Bolingbroke,” owned by Queen Anne. This marked the beginning of racing at Ascot, laying the foundation for the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting (receiving the patronage of King George III) that would later become one of the highlights of the British horse racing calendar.
Over the years, the event has evolved into a prestigious spectacle, attracting members of the royal family, celebrities, and high society. The Royal Enclosure, introduced in 1807, remains an exclusive area for the most distinguished guests.
The racecourse itself has witnessed various changes and improvements, making it a world-class venue for thoroughbred racing. Today, Royal Ascot stands as a symbol of tradition, elegance, and sporting excellence, attracting horse racing enthusiasts and fashion aficionados from around the globe.
The Gold Cup
The most famous and prestigious race at Royal Ascot is arguably the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is a Group 1 flat race that takes place over a distance of about 2 miles and 4 furlongs (approximately 4,023 meters) and is traditionally run on the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting, known as Ladies’ Day.
The Gold Cup has a rich history, dating back to 1807, and it is one of the oldest and most coveted trophies in horse racing. Winning the Gold Cup is considered a significant achievement for both the horse and its connections. The Gold Cup is known for its competitive field, showcasing the stamina and endurance of the finest long-distance horses.
Yeats holds the record for the most victories in the Ascot Gold Cup, winning the race four times consecutively from 2006 to 2009, followed closely by Stradivarius’s Gold Cup Hat-Trick. The most successful jockey in Ascot Gold Cup history is Lester Piggott, who won 11 Gold Cups over his career, including three victories on Sagaro (1975, 1976, 1977) and two with Ardross (1981, 1982).
Interested in attending Royal Ascot? Find out more about our hospitality packages!
5 Memorable Royal Ascot Moments
Although highly subjective, here are our five notable moments from Royal Ascot that have left a lasting impact:
- Black Caviar’s Victory (2012): Australian mare Black Caviar extended her unbeaten streak by winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The victory marked her 22nd consecutive win, and the global attention on her performance added extra excitement to Royal Ascot.
- Frankel’s Ascot Wins (2011-2012): Considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Frankel won the Queen Anne Stakes in 2012 and the St James’s Palace Stakes in 2011 at Royal Ascot. Both victories showcased his extraordinary talent and contributed to his unbeaten career record.
- Estimate’s Royal Ascot Triumph (2013): Owned by Queen Elizabeth II, Estimate won The Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in 2012 and returned in 2013 to secure a historic victory in the Gold Cup. It marked the first time a reigning monarch’s horse had won the race.
- Stradivarius’s Gold Cup Hat-Trick (2018-2020): Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden, demonstrated his staying prowess by winning the Gold Cup in three consecutive years (2018-2020). His performances in this prestigious race solidified his status as one of the top stayers of his generation.
- Yeats’s Four Consecutive Gold Cup Wins (2006-2009): Yeats, trained by Aidan O’Brien, achieved a historic feat by winning the Ascot Gold Cup four years in a row. His dominance in the staying division made him a legendary figure in the world of horse racing.
Royal Ascot in Popular Culture
Royal Ascot has embedded itself as a cultural icon that frequently makes appearances in popular culture. The event’s allure transcends the world of horse racing, influencing literature, films, and fashion. Numerous novels and films have used Royal Ascot as a backdrop for romantic encounters, high-stakes drama, and societal commentary!
In literature, Royal Ascot often appears as a symbol of sophistication and status. Writers have employed its elegant setting to depict the opulence and intricacies of high society. The glamorous fashion and social traditions of Royal Ascot have inspired various works, creating a sense of mystique around the event.
On the big screen, Royal Ascot has featured prominently in films, showcasing its visual splendor and providing a backdrop for pivotal moments in the story. The event’s association with the British royal family and its international appeal have made it a visually stunning and culturally resonant setting for filmmakers. Films thathave featured Ascot include My Fair Lady (1964), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), and James Bond’s Thunderball (1965).
Fashion & Ladies Day
Fashion at Royal Ascot is a spectacle in itself, and the sartorial choices of attendees, particularly in the Royal Enclosure, have become influential in the fashion world. The event has inspired designers and fashionistas alike, with its strict dress code and the showcasing of elegant hats and outfits.
Ladies’ Day in particular is a highlight of Royal Ascot, celebrated for both its equine prowess and high fashion. The term seems to be have been first used in 1823, when an anonymous poet described the Thursday of the Royal Meeting as “Ladies’ Day… when the women, like angels, look sweetly divine.” Traditionally held on the third day of the meeting (Gold Cup Day), this day captures the essence of elegance and glamour. Women attending Ladies’ Day showcase an array of extravagant hats, stylish dresses, and sophisticated ensembles, creating a spectacle that rivals the excitement on the racetrack. The day features a prestigious fashion competition, the Royal Ascot Fashion Awards, where attendees vie for recognition in categories such as Best Dressed Lady and Best Hat.
In essence, Royal Ascot’s impact on popular culture extends beyond the racetrack. Its influence is felt in literature, film, fashion, and societal commentary, contributing to its enduring reputation as a symbol of elegance, tradition, and prestige.
Best Places to Watch the Action From
Ascot Racecourse boasts several areas where spectators can watch the racing, both indoors and outdoors. It’s important to note that access to certain areas, including indoor facilities, will be subject to ticket types and specific enclosures.
- Grandstand Enclosure: The Grandstand Enclosure provides a range of viewing options. Within the Grandstand, you’ll find both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as private boxes. The Grandstand offers excellent views of the finishing straight and the iconic Ascot straight mile.
- Royal Enclosure: The Royal Enclosure is an exclusive area that provides premium viewing experiences. While outdoor spaces like the Parade Ring and the Grandstand are popular, there are also indoor facilities, including private lounges and restaurants, where attendees can enjoy the races in a sophisticated setting.
- The Queen Anne Enclosure: This enclosure provides various viewing areas, including the Grandstand, where you can watch the races both indoors and outdoors. The Queen Anne Enclosure offers a vibrant atmosphere and is an excellent choice for those seeking a combination of excitement and comfort.
- Village Enclosure: The Village Enclosure is another option that provides a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces. With access to various bars, restaurants, and viewing areas, attendees can choose between indoor comfort and the lively outdoor atmosphere.
- Private Boxes: Ascot Racecourse also offers private boxes for a more exclusive and intimate experience. These boxes typically include both indoor and outdoor seating, providing a luxurious setting for watching the races.
Getting to Ascot Racecourse
Ascot Racecourse is located in Ascot, Berkshire. The best way to get to Ascot Racecourse depends on your starting point, but here are some general recommendations:
- By Train: Ascot has its own train station, Ascot Station, which is just a short walk from the racecourse. Trains run regularly from London Waterloo, taking approximately 50 minutes. There are also direct train services from Reading and Guildford. Special race-day services are often provided during major events, such as Royal Ascot.
- By Car: Ascot Racecourse is accessible by car and is well-connected to major road networks. If you are driving, the racecourse is conveniently located near the M3, M4, M25, and M40 motorways. Parking facilities are available on-site, but it’s advisable to check for any pre-booking requirements, especially during major events.
- By Bus: Local bus services connect Ascot with nearby towns and cities. Check with local bus operators for routes and schedules.
- Helicopter: For a more luxurious and unconventional approach, Ascot Racecourse has helicopter landing facilities during major events. This option is typically available for private charters.
Betting at Royal Ascot
Betting at Royal Ascot (or any horse racing event) requires a combination of knowledge, strategy, and a bit of luck. Here are some tips to help you make more informed decisions:
- Understand the Basics: Familiarize yourself with the different types of bets, such as win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, and so on. Learn how odds work and how they represent the potential payout.
- Research the Horses: Study the form of each horse, including recent performances, the jockey’s record, and the trainer’s history. Look at factors such as distance preferences, ground conditions, and previous performances at Cheltenham.
- Set a Budget and Diversify: Decide how much money you’re willing to spend on betting, and stick to your budget. Gambling responsibly is crucial. Instead of putting all your money on one horse or one type of bet, consider spreading your bets across different races and bet types.
- Follow Expert Tips: Pay attention to tips from experienced horse racing analysts and experts. However, always do your research and don’t blindly follow tips.
- Trust Your Instincts: While data and analysis are essential, sometimes intuition plays a role in betting. Trust your instincts but always balance it with informed decision-making.
Remember, horse racing is unpredictable, and there are no guaranteed outcomes. It’s crucial to gamble responsibly and view betting as a form of entertainment rather than a guaranteed way to make money. Take a look at our Guide to Betting at Ascot for more information!
Attending Royal Ascot with Corinthian Sports
Corinthian Sports offer premier VIP experiences at the best sporting events in the UK and overseas exclusively for guests who want a unique, high quality and memorable day!
We are proud to offer an exclusive facility overlooking the Pre-Parade Ring and Saddling Boxes and the perfect vantage point for the first look of the racehorses as they come up from the stables.
Our Royal Ascot packages include:
- Club Enclosure admission badge
- Champagne Reception & VIP hostess service
- Amazing guest speakers from the world of horse racing
- Morning coffee and biscuits
- Complimentary bar
- Four course luncheon
- Full afternoon tea
- Car park labels (1 per 2 guests)
- Souvenir race card and Racing newspapers
- Live coverage on Flat screen TV’s
- Tote betting facilities & Racing tipsters
- Individual guest documentation