Owned by Ascot Racecourse Ltd., the Ascot racecourse is one of the most famous racecourses in the UK. It is located in the village of Ascot in Berkshire and is associated with the royal family of Britain and was founded by Queen Anne in 1711. The first race at the Ascot racecourse was the 100 guineas Her Majesty’s Plate, conducted in August 1711. There were seven horses in this race, each with a weight of 76 kgs. In 1913, the Parliament created the Ascot Authority through an act; till today, it is this entity that manages the entire racecourse.
Ascot is known for thoroughbred racing and conducts races 26 days in a year between May and October, also called the Flat season, because during this time it conducts 18 flat races. During the winter months, it is home to jump racing. The big attraction at Ascot has always been the Royal Meeting in June, the highlight of which is the Gold Cup. At Ascot, the most prestigious race of the year is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which is conducted during July.
More about the Ascot Racecourse - The Royal Ascot
From the day it was created right up to 1945, the only race that was conducted at Ascot was a four-day event called Royal Meeting. Later more events, including the steeplechase and hurdles (1965) were introduced. The racecourse was closed for renovation for a period of 20 months starting September 26, 2004 and reopening on June 20, 2006 at an estimated cost of £185 million.
The showcase race at the Ascot racecourse is of course the Royal Ascot. It is an event that is attended by members of the British Royal Family, including the monarch and the princes. Today, it has become a major event in the social calendar of Britain’s racing fraternity, in fact, of Britain itself. There are strict dress codes for both women (day dress and a hat, with specific instructions on the style and length of dress, and no bare midriffs or shoulders please) and men (grey or black morning dress with a top hat).
In all, there are more than 300,000 people in attendance at Berkshire during the Royal Ascot week. The prize money of this race too has nosed upwards, touching £5 million in 2013, an 11% increase from the previous year. During the 2013 season, the overall prize money at Ascot was a cool £10,000,000-plus.
More about the Ascot Racecourse
The main enclosures at Ascot include the grandstand and balconies overlooking the track as well as the Parade Ring. At all these locations, visitors have easy access to great restaurants and bars as well as some fabulous lawns. During the Royal Ascot week, the most privileged enclosure is the Royal Enclosure, with members of the Royal Family usually seen in attendance there.
When you land up at Ascot for the first time, there are a lot of things you can enjoy, including a free guided tour of the venue from one of the stewards there. You also get to see the media center, the Weighing Room, the Jockey’s Changing Room, and more. For prior information on the different races at Ascot, all you need to do is access the website. You can check out the day of the race and the events lined up, along with the food joints, and also book your tickets for a fun day. And if you are new to Ascot, there is an entire tutorial at the site for race goers.