Discover Royal Ascot and British horse racing
With 5 days of top quality racing, Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of the British horse racing calendar. As Britain’s most valuable horse meeting, with millions of pounds of prize money for owners, it welcomes racehorses, jockeys and trainers from every corner of the globe.
Taking place at Ascot Racecourse in the heart of Berkshire, situated in spectacular wooded countryside adjoining Windsor Great Park, the annual meeting in mid-June mixes sartorial elegance with incredible heritage, gallantry and tradition. Royal Ascot is revered the world over and will take place between Tuesday 18 June and Saturday 22 June in 2019.
30 races are spread evenly across the 5 days of Royal Ascot, including 18 Group races, of which 8 are Group 1 – the highest level in racing. The event has welcomed competitors from as far afield as Australia, Japan, the USA and the Middle East in the past, so racegoers can expect to see the finest horses that the world has to offer.
Different enclosure options
For Royal Ascot, the racecourse is divided up into 4 enclosures, each with its own individual character, alongside a host of private boxes and hospitality offerings.
With its origins dating back to 1807, the Royal Enclosure was once a space exclusively reserved for the guests of King George III. It has maintained that exclusivity to this day, as membership is strictly by invitation only. It’s here that you can expect to see top hats and coat tails, as well as the best of this season’s designer fashion.
Taking pride of place at the epicentre of Royal Ascot is the Queen Anne Enclosure, named in honour of the racecourse’s founding monarch. As well as unparalleled views of the racing from the raised terracing, this enclosure also hosts the Parade Ring and Winners’ Enclosure, meaning you’ll find yourself right at the heart of the action. As well as an array of dining options, it’s also home to the Bandstand, where every day of racing culminates in a traditional sing-along.
In the centre of the racecourse, and with the Ascot Grandstand as the backdrop, is the Village Enclosure, providing a unique perspective on the racing and Royal Procession. Alongside boutique restaurants, al-fresco dining and a host of pop-up stalls, live DJs and bands perform into the early evening.
Alternatively, you can join the thousands of racegoers who want to be close to the rails in The Windsor Enclosure as the thoroughbred racehorses thunder past. The enclosure provides the first glimpse of the Royal Procession as they progress down the straight mile, including what colour hat the Queen is wearing. It is also home to an abundance of artisan food stalls - you can take in a picnic, provided it adheres to the racecourse’s policy.
The Royal Procession
Before the racing on each day of Royal Ascot, the Queen and other accompanying members of the Royal Family arrive along the track in horse-drawn landaus, led by 4 spectacular Windsor Grey horses. This Royal Procession has signalled the start of the royal meeting since 1825, when King George IV led 4 other coachers with members of the Royal family up the straight mile part of the course.
Getting to Royal Ascot
As well as being close to motorway links and Heathrow Airport, Ascot Racecourse is around a 50-minute train journey from London Waterloo or 30 minutes from Reading. Alternatively, the racecourse has partnered with Fresh Air Helicopters to provide a fast route into Royal Ascot. International visitors can also take advantage of Private Jet Charter by Victor to fly into private airport terminals at Farnborough, Luton, Oxford, Biggin Hill or Blackbush, before then completing the journey to the course via helicopter.
Horse racing around Britain
Horseracing is incredibly popular across Britain and race meetings attract 1000s of people on a regular basis. With racecourses in all corners of the UK offering both jump and flat racing, here are some of the main picks from the horseracing calendar.
Racing at Epsom
A weekend of heart-pounding action at the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom racecourse features what is widely considered to the ‘greatest flat race in the world’ – the Investec Derby. Alongside the racing, a host of entertainment including skydiving and live DJs is on offer, while Ladies Day is a celebration of fashion and includes the highly contested Style Awards. With enclosures to suit everyone, there is also an array of hospitality options to suit all budgets.
Racing at Aintree
Famed for the Grand National, the Randox Health Grand National Festival hosts an array of top quality racing across 3 days in April. Racing culminates on Grand National Saturday, when 40 runners and riders battle it out for the ultimate prize in the world’s most iconic handicap race. With 8 Group 1 races during the first 2 days of the event, the Friday is renowned for its colour, style and fashion – with a big car prize on offer for the winner of the Style Award.
Racing at Newmarket
Mixing incredible racing with fantastic entertainment and an unbeatable atmosphere, the QIPCO Guineas weekend features the first 2 Classics of the season – the 2000 Guineas on Saturday and the 1000 Guineas on Sunday. Both races can trace their roots back to the early 1800s and as well as live music and Après Racing parties, there is plenty more to keep racegoers entertained across the weekend.
Racing at Goodwood
Featuring 5 days of exhilarating racing, The Qatar Goodwood Festival – popularly known as Glorious Goodwood – mixes top quality flat racing with elegant fashion, all set against the spectacular backdrop of rolling Sussex countryside. This feast of elite racing gets underway at the end of July and, like Royal Ascot, there are a range of enclosures to pick from.
Racing at York
Mixing racing excellence with high-end fashion, the Yorkshire Ebor Festival features Britain’s oldest, fastest and richest races, spread over 4 incredible days in August. With £1 million of prize money on offer to the winners of both the Juddmonte International Stakes and the Ebor Heritage Handicap, it’s easy to see why the meeting is popular with British and international trainers, jockeys and racing fans alike.
Racing at Kempton
With 2 days of iconic jump racing, the 32Red Winter Festival is the jewel in Kempton Park’s crown. Held on 26 and 27 December, Boxing Day includes 3 Grade 1 races and often welcomes the best horses and trainers in the business – it might be colder at this time of year, but the quality of the jump racing shows no sign of abating.
Racing at Cheltenham
An essential part of the horse racing calendar and the pinnacle of global jump racing, the Cheltenham Festival attracts mainly British and Irish trainers to the Prestbury Park course, near Cheltenham. Taking place in mid-March, and often coinciding with St Patrick’s Day, the Irish celebration of the Patron Saint of Ireland, half of the Festival’s 28 races are at Grade 1 level. Listen out for the renowned ‘Cheltenham Roar’ when the first race of the day gets underway, while the Gold Cup on the Friday of the meeting is the most prestigious race in the National Hunt Calendar. More than 260,000 regularly attend the 4 days of the festival – will you join them?