History of Royal Ascot

History of Royal Ascot

The 300-year story of racing at Ascot begins in 1711, when Queen Anne put the idea into motion to pursue her love of horse racing

The 300-year story of racing at Ascot begins in 1711, when Queen Anne put the idea into motion to pursue her love of horse racing.

Ascot Racecourse is a famous English racecourse, located in Berkshire, and used for thoroughbred horse racing. It is one of the leading racecourses in Britain hosting nine of the UK’s 32 annual Group 1 races. Ascot is closely associated with the British Royal Family as it is approximately six miles from Windsor Castle.

Every year Royal Ascot is attended by HM Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family, arriving each day in horse-drawn carriages. The Royal procession takes place at the start of each race day, and the Queen’s Royal Standard is raised. This year the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Beatrice and Eugenie arrived together in horse-drawn carriages to celebrate the event’s 300th year.

The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three enclosures, and is where the Queen and her entourage sit. Entry to the Royal Enclosure is strictly regulated: first-time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure office and be nominated by a current member; existing badge holders receive an invitation each year from Her Majesty’s Representative.

Ascot is famous for its extravagant gowns and headpieces. Millinery creations this year included birds, flowers and even a paint palette. Premier Admission is not as formal as the Royal Enclosure, but visitors still dress up, and fascinators are the norm.

The history of Royal Ascot is of great interest to many horse racing fans. Queen Anne, an equestrian sports fan, came across a clearing that looked perfect for racing while taking a carriage ride through the forest near Windsor Castle. The clearing was bought for just £558, and she ordered it to be prepared for racing. On 11 August that same year the Royal racecourse played host to its first race, ‘Her Majesty’s Plate’. However, following the death of Anne, racing at Ascot faded as King George I despised all sports.

Racing returned to Ascot in 1720 and it soon became one of Britain’s most famous racing venues. King George IV initiated the first royal carriage procession on the track in 1825 and the tradition has continued ever since.

Royal Ascot is also an attraction for those who like to bet. Odds for each race are displayed at each betting company’s stand. Despite the rain, and the plentiful umbrellas, some 300,000 people attended Royal Ascot this year.

For this year’s results and more information visit www.ascot.co.uk

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