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Do you want to surround yourself with fast horses and elegant hats at the most glamorous event in England’s sporting calendar? Royal Ascot remains the pinnacle of Britain’s fashion and social calendar. The colour, variety and beauty of the spectacle here is unique, blending tradition with innovation. A major event on the British social calendar since its founding by Queen Anne in 1711, the annual race meeting, occurring each June at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England, remains a heady mix of pomp, tradition, fashion, class distinction and, of course, sport.
On this occasion, I’ve been asked to work closely with World Horse Racing and is delighted to announce a ground-breaking new media company dedicated to telling the story of international thoroughbred horse racing launches today with Ascot Racecourse. World Horse Racing will give fans exclusive access to the thrills, glamour and culture of one of the world’s most enthralling sports. World Horse Racing will focus on racing’s astonishing athletes and engaging personalities – human and equine – along with the festivals that stage the greatest of sporting spectacles. To find out more about World Horse Racing – and to catch up on the latest stories where I will be taking over on their Instagram’s account – search for World Horse Racing on social media, or just go to worldhorseracing.com.
Travelling in style from London in one of Wheely’s luxury chauffeur-driven cars, this is an achievable 50-minute ride. Their personal chauffeur service offers some new, black and impeccably clean luxury cars, starting from an E‑class Mercedes‑Benz up to an S‑class Mercedes‑Benz to satisfy the most discerning of clients and whisk you off to the heart of London – any destination you may desire. Request a car with a single tap, and it will be there to pick you up within 10 minutes – easy!
It’s also an easy option to take the train from London Waterloo, a journey of less than an hour. The gates open from 10.30am but many people arrive early to explore the ground and enjoy a glass of bubbly before the start of the race. Nonetheless, it’s more of a people-watching experience in the ground, where the ladies get to wear the very best of their best hats and the gents their sophisticated morning suits in the Royal Enclosure.
The clue’s in the name. Royal Ascot is June’s five-day meeting with the Queen and other royals in attendance, having trundled down from Windsor Castle in carriages. Wear a hat and pronounce it ‘As-kut’, not ‘As-cot’. Here is everything you need to know about Royal Ascot 2018, the world’s most famous race meet. Highlights include the Queen’s parade and this year there will be superstars of the racing world battling it out on the track. And I’ve been invited to this most famous event, where I get to see everyone dressed up in their best attire whilst watching the race itself. As soon I might end up spilling out, “C’mon Dover! Move yer bloomin’ arse!” So scandalous is Hepburn’s legendary outburst in the Oscar-winning 1964 film, My Fair Lady, one nearby aristocrat actually faints in shock at the famous scene at Royal Ascot, which kicked off on Tuesday 19th June 2018, points to the strict protocol still permeating the historic 300-year-old horse race.
The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious area of the racecourse, where access is restricted and by invitation only. First-time applicants can contact the Royal Enclosure Office and gain membership from someone who has attended the enclosure for at least four years. For existing badge holders, an invitation is sent out every year by Her Majesty’s Representative to request badges. The colours of the badges vary each day for one-day applicants. As far as fashion is concerned, the Royal Enclosure has very strict rules – formal day dress is required and dresses must be a modest length (just above the knee). Straps should be one inch wide or greater. Extravagant hats are worn but the base of the headpiece needs to be at least 4 inches. Gentlemen must wear black or grey morning dress. The dress codes are more relaxed in other areas. The Queen Anne Enclosure and Village Enclosure permit suits for men rather than morning dress and formal day dress for ladies. No formal dress code applies for the Windsor Enclosure. I am wearing a silk top hat and a morning suit for the first time in a summer month and the whole ensemble is from Moss Bros, a tailoring brand since 1851, where you can either purchase the day race outfit outright, or you may choose to simply hire the outfit for this one-off occasion.
The opening of the meet is signalled by the Queen’s parade and crowds gather to watch her grand arrival along with a small group of other royal attendees. The first race starts shortly afterwards, at the beginning of the afternoon. The closer the carriages gets to the stands, the louder the buzz from the crowd. Simultaneously, the Band of Her Majesty’s Irish Guards marches into place to play the national anthem, “God Save the Queen.” Thousands of top hats are removed en-masse and the crowd sings, followed by spontaneous applause and cheers that grow into a cacophony as the Queen’s carriage passes, accompanied by nonstop “Hip, Hip, Hoorays!”
Following the royal arrival, just like halftime at a football game, there’s a mad rush for the bars and the restrooms, but instead of beers and brats, it’s Bollinger and lobster rolls. Yes, there are a few thrilling horse races, accompanied by a tremendous amount of drinking, but the real show is in the garden of the Royal Enclosure, which turns into one big party, and, of course, the Royal Box, which hovers over the stands like the bridge of a massive ocean liner. There is a different feature race each day and the racing is over by late afternoon. Lunch is available at any time and many people choose to enjoy a bite to eat during the early races. Be sure to keep an eye on the time for any of the individual races you may have placed bets on! I’m wearing a watch by Longines, the Swiss watchmaker who, today, is celebrating over 10 years of successful partnership with Ascot, one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom. Today in Longines’ London boutique, specially decorated for the occasion, the Swiss watch brand and Ascot celebrate their partnership which has spanned the last decade. The association with Ascot, started in 2006, saw the brand become the Official Partner, Timekeeper and Watch of the British racecourse and marked for Longines a significant milestone in its involvement in horse racing in Europe. The brand has nurtured a passion for equestrian sports since 1878 and is now a partner of some of the major equestrian events all across the globe.
After a long, warm summer day, I think it’s time for some afternoon tea with an ice-cool champagne at the Rose Terrace. Located just past the Winning Post, this private decking area has fabulous views overlooking the track and is only a short walk to the main concert stage. The best place to come and check out if you have won your bet – just like winning the lottery!
The last race finishes at a quarter to six so, if you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend leaving before then. It’s time to take off the top hat and enjoy your memories of “A Day at the Races”. With a massive “Thank you” to World Horse Racing, Longines, Moss Bros and Wheely for a spectacular Royal Ascot experience.