After the worldwide celebrations of her platinum jubilee, 96-year old Queen Elizabeth has remained in the public eye for her favourite event of the year. Royal Ascot is one of the highlights of the horse racing calendar, and is as famous for its social aspects as it is for the top quality racing.
This year’s event attracted even more followers than usual, some caught up in the fervour and eager to spot which Royals would be in attendance and others simply hoping to back a race winner.
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All about Ascot
The first Royal Ascot race meeting was organised at the behest of Queen Anne in 1711, and the race meeting has taken place almost every year ever since. It is traditional for the Queen to open proceedings each day, and much of the tradition surrounding the event has remained unchanged over the past 200 years.
That includes the dress code, at least in the RoyalEnclosure. Gentlemen are required to wear a full morning suit, complete with top hat and waistcoat. Ladies are also required to wear headgear – in fact, predicting the colour of the Queen’s hat often attracts almost as many wagers as the races themselves.
Backing a winner
Trying to back a winner is all part of the fun at Royal Ascot. One of the interesting things about this year’s event was the blend of ancient and modern. While the royals were arriving in their 19th century carriages, punters – and probably some of the royal passengers – were able to choose a sports betting app that also provides expert tips, form guides and ideally, video streams.
The race meeting is run over five days, each of which has its own distinct theme as well as aheadline race. On the opening day, this is the Queen Anne Stakes. This year, the crowds soon got over the disappointment of mobility problems preventing Her Majesty herself from attending, and were treated to a royal parade by the rest of her family, led by eldest son Prince Charles and eldest grandson Peter Phillips in the leading carriage. As for the race itself, Baeed romped homein much the way you would expect of a 1-6 favourite.
Wednesday lived up to its less frantic billing as a day to relax, watch the people and, of course, the horses. The sole G1 race was the Prince of Wales Stakes, in which bookmakers’ favourite Bay Bridge was narrowly beaten by State of Rest.
Thursday is Ladies Day, and that’s when the big hats and overdressing really hits its stride. It’s a massive day on the racecard too, with the Ascot Gold Cup, which is arguably the most important race of the entire festival. Past winners include famous names like Stradivarius, Yeats and Order of St George.
A global audience
As well as being a top sporting event, Royal Ascot is also a spectacle the like of which you simply wouldn’t see anywhere else in the 21st century world. This year, more viewers than ever were able to soak up the atmosphere via the live stream – including, no doubt, a certain royal horse lover who couldn’t be there in person!