SOME people go for the fashion. Others pay homage to the royal family. But the majority go for the top-class horses. Royal Ascot 2014 will provide the best week of Flat racing anywhere in the world. The annual meeting is also one of the biggest events in the social calendar. It is steeped in history and celebrates our heritage quite like no other event. The familiar sight of The Queen and her royal underlings parading down the course before racing each day is one of those constants in our lives that never changes. What colour Her Majesty wears each day provides a flurry of excitement and a lively betting market that I can never quite explain! And the array of hats range from the sublime to the downright ridiculous. Punters, celebrities and VIPs watch each other, as well as the racing….
But the racing is what it’s all about. A royal winner is the ultimate and who could forget The Queen’s Estimate triumphing in last year’s Ascot Gold Cup.
More than 300,000 people are expected to attend the five days of Royal Ascot 2014, which starts on June 17. Millions of pounds in prize money is up for grabs and more than 50,000 bottles of champagne will be drunk.
Three Group One races kick the meeting off on the Tuesday. In the opener, the Queen Anne Stakes, Toronado is expected to represent leading trainer Richard Hannon Jnr. Verrazanno could be his main rival from the all-conquering Aidan O’Brien yard. Hot Streak will be hard to beat in the King’s Stand Stakes while in the St James’s Palace Stakes Kingman and Night of Thunder will renew their exciting rivalry.
The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes is the highlight on the Wednesday where Magician will be hard to beat and the Gold Cup will take centre stage on Thursday, Ladies’ Day. The Group One Coronation Stakes for fillies is Friday feature while the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, won by Black Caviar two years ago, is the Saturday highlight. Throw in a welter of competitive handicaps and crack juvenile races and you have the perfect mix of racing.
Here are a few other Royal Ascot facts and figures…
- Royal Ascot dates from 1711 when Queen Anne drove from Windsor with her entourage for a day’s sport organised at her command.
- The oldest race is the Ascot Gold Cup, first run in 1807.
- The present Queen first went to Ascot in 1945 and has attended every year since.
- Ladies attending the Royal Enclosure are required to wear formal day dress with hats covering the crown of the head, and gentlemen morning dress or uniform. The Royal Enclosure dress code is policed by stewards and anyone not complying will be asked to leave.
- A ban on divorcees entering the Royal Enclosure was lifted in 1955.
- Undischarged bankrupts are still unwelcome and admission of ex-prisoners is at the discretion of officials.
In collaboration with IHG.