The highlight of the British horse racing calendar, Royal Ascot is known for hosting five days filled with excitement and traditions, which can be enjoyed both at the racecourse and from home. Taking place from 15 – 19 June 2021, this year will feature seven action-packed races a day, creating an extensive 35-race programme which is set to become a permanent feature of the meeting.
Returning with a limited number of spectators in 2021, Royal Ascot promises to continue its rich traditions, with visitors dressing in their finest suits, dresses and most famously, eye-catching millinery.
In the UK, all races will be shown on Sky Sports Racing, alongside extensive coverage on ITV and ITV4, which will show the nail-biting races and the Opening Show each day – giving many households the opportunity to adhere to the glamourous dress code while watching at home! Globally, the event will be broadcast in around 200 countries and will be available to more than 650 million households. For viewers in the US, NBC provides coverage of Royal Ascot.
Named after the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Royal Ascot in 2021 will host the inaugural Kensington Palace Stakes – a new handicap to be run over the round Old Mile of the course. This follows on from additions to the 2020 programme, such as the Copper Horse Stakes, Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes and Golden Gates Stakes, as well as the return of the Buckingham Palace Handicap after a five-year break.
The names of the new races tip their hats and fascinators to Britain’s royal heritage, with the Copper Horse Stakes referencing Windsor Great Park’s grand bronze monument of King George III. Depicting the monarch proudly on horseback, the statue can be found at the end of the iconic Long Walk, which leads from Windsor Castle and is surrounded by miles of ancient trees. Along similar lines of tribute, the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes celebrates the residence of the British monarch in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is located on Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile.
As a sport, modern horse racing in Britain can be traced back to the 1100s, when Arab stallions were first brought to the country by English Knights returning from the Crusades. In the centuries that followed, these elegant creatures were bred with native horses, creating the thoroughbreds seen galloping on racecourses to this day.
Ascot Racecourse meanwhile was established over 300 years ago by horse-race super fan Queen Anne, and has received the patronage of another eleven monarchs since. The summer race meeting was given a Royal title in 1911 and it has since grown into one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year, renowned for mixing sartorial elegance with heritage, gallantry and tradition. The main stand was redeveloped between 2004 and 2006 as part of a multi-million-pound effort to transform it into the best racecourse in the world. With five days of top quality events, Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of the British horse racing calendar and the nation’s most valuable horse racing meeting, with millions of pounds of prize money up for grabs.
Each race day is traditionally started in truly regal fashion, as Her Royal Highness, and other members of the Royal Family, arrive along the track in horse-drawn landaus. This Royal Procession has signalled the start of the royal meeting since 1825, when King George IV led four other coaches with members of the Royal Family up the straight mile part of the course.
But it’s not just about Ascot. With racecourses across the country offering in person and Racing At Home events for 2021, if you're a fan of the sport you can look forward to an action-packed calendar to enjoy from near or far. For full information on upcoming events, visit The Jockey Club.
Restrictions on travel to and around Britain are in place due to Covid-19. You are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.