Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the world, with an estimated 300 million people in over 80 countries spectating or betting on races. The sport dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome, but it has become more widespread since thoroughbreds were introduced to Britain by King Charles II in the 1660s.
The highest-profile horse racing event is arguably Royal Ascot. It attracts 40,000 spectators each year and around 700 horses from 25 countries compete for a prize pool of £3.25 million. In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know about this event and why it has been so successful. Read on to learn about its history, traditions, and how you can get involved!
The History of Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot is a British horse racing meeting set in Berkshire, England.
The event was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 when she laid out the original four mile course from Ascot House to Longcross. She also established the Ascot Gold Cup, which is the first and oldest of the five British Classic Races. The “Royal” prefix was added to commemorate her ascension to the throne and emphasise that it was a time for celebration.
The inaugural meeting took place on Wednesday 16th June 1711, with seven races run over two days.
The Queen 's Race Day
Royal Ascot is an annual horse race meeting, held at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. It is one of the United Kingdom's major horse racing events and considered to be part of the 'Triple Crown' of English horse racing alongside the 2,000 Guineas and the St Leger.
The Queen's Cup or Royal Sovereign Stakes are among the most prestigious races at the event. In total, there are 24 races over five days and it attracts around 40,000 spectators each year.
The event has been running for 264 years since its first meeting on 17 June 1711. It was founded by Queen Anne who wanted to create a race day that would rival those of her French counterparts. The name Ascot comes from 'Ascot Heath,' which was where one of her favourite hunting grounds was located; she used to spend much time there with her courtiers and hounds.
The racecourse opened just after 11:00 on 17 June 1711 when His Majesty King George I attended with his groomed pack of harriers. The king then ran a hare across the course and within an hour £1,200 had been bet!
The Runway Show at Royal Ascot
One of the most anticipated events at Royal Ascot is the Runway Show, which starts at 3:00 pm. This tradition originated in 1973 when a group of fashion groups wanted to showcase their latest designs. The show has since grown into what is now an important element of the five-day event. In addition to showcasing new fashions, there are also live entertainment acts and cooking demonstrations. To attend this event, you'll need to purchase tickets in advance as they sell out quickly!
What happens in the Royal Enclosure?
The Royal Enclosure is a luxurious area of the race course where wealthy guests can watch the races from private boxes. There are strict dress codes in place, which means women must wear hats and men must wear a jacket, shirt, and tie.
The Royal Enclosure is divided into five enclosures: The Queen's Stand, Prince of Wales's Stand, King's Stand, Queen Anne Stand, and Duke of York’s Stand. The stands offer different views and different levels of exclusivity.
How to dress for Royal Ascot
Dressing for Royal Ascot is a time-honored tradition. In addition to the obvious requirement of wearing clothing that is appropriate for the occasion, there are a few guidelines that you should be aware of. Women typically wear a hat and gloves, while males are required to wear a morning dress suit with striped trousers and a cravat. The Queen's Guard will also be present on horseback in ceremonial dress.
Why should I go to Royal Ascot?
In the world of horse racing, Royal Ascot is considered to be the "crown jewel." It's a prestigious event that attracts 40,000 spectators each year and has been running since 1711.
It's not just the prestige that makes it a must-see event though. It's also the tradition. For example, you'll never see anyone walk down the path to Royal Ascot. You'll only see an entourage of horse-drawn carriages and people on horseback.
This tradition goes back to 1849 when Queen Victoria refused to ride in a carriage because she felt it was beneath her dignity as a queen. That refusal sparked a new tradition at Royal Ascot that continues to this day!
The other reason why you should attend is for all of the excitement. The event features races for both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, and you'll find everything from steeplechases to show jumping there too.
Not only will you have the opportunity to watch some exciting races but you can also participate in betting on them as well! The odds are determined by how long it takes horses to complete one circuit around the racecourse which is 1 mile or 2 furlongs (220 yards or 201 meters).
Do note: Horse racing is banned in Belgium, France, Hong Kong and Singapore.