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Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is the crown jewel of the flat racing calendar and it offers five days of top-level racing, fashion, food & drink and pageantry.

Here is a guide to the Berkshire racecourse.

Royal Ascot 2024

All You Need To Know

A royal history

Ascot has a rich and royal history. Racing has been taking place at the Berkshire venue for over 300 years and the racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, when out riding from Windsor Castle.

The modern-day Ascot stages both flat and National Hunt racing, with the Royal Ascot meeting comprising five days of high-class action on the level in mid-June.

Ascot Racecourse is visited by approximately 600,000 people a year, including many members of the Royal Family, accounting for 10 per-cent of all UK racegoers annually.

It hosts 13 of Britain's 36 annual Flat Group 1 races and the Royal Meeting remains one of the highlights of the sporting summer.

Track characteristics

The flat course at Ascot has both a straight and round course. There is a straight mile course, which stages races from five furlongs up to a mile, and the round course, with races run over one mile and up to the extreme two-mile-and-four-furlong trip of the Ascot Gold Cup.

The round course is a right-handed track, with a downhill run into Swinley Bottom and relatively short run-in from the final turn. Given the fairly short home straight and sweeping last bend, it can suit prominent racers.

The straight course is a pretty fair test and often the pace of the race is key to a horse's chance. Generally speaking those drawn high have held a slight advantage in fields of 14 or more over the five or six furlong trips.

For National Hunt racing the right-handed course is galloping in nature. This course reopened in 2006/07 after major redevelopment work, and improved drainage means conditions rarely get as testing as in days gone by.

The chase course often favours those ridden prominently and the fences are considered a stern test of jumping.

The Enclosures

Royal Ascot is certainly not a one-size-fits-all job when it comes to enclosures. Much like boxing events, football matches or music concerts, there are different levels of ticketing and these then transfer to different areas of facilities at the Royal meeting.

Each enclosure will offer a different experience, a different Royal Ascot dress code and different amenities.

The Windsor Enclosure is the most informal space, with a relaxed dress code and atmosphere during the Royal Meeting.

The Village Enclosure is located on the inside of the track facing the towering grandstand and it offers punters the opportunity to get close to the Royal Procession and Royal Ascot runners.

The Queen Anne Enclosure allows access to all the facilities of the Grandstand and is the most popular choice of racegoers.

Punters have entry to the parade ring, betting ring, the numerous champagne bars and food outlets, as well as getting a superb view of the action and the fantastic atmosphere that the meeting generates. Formal daytime attire is a requirement in the Queen Anne Enclosure.

The Royal Enclosure is the peak of the Ascot offering. Members have access to a private trackside viewing lawn, an area around the parade ring, a fourth-floor vantage point in the grandstand and several fine-dining restaurants.

Morning dress for gentlemen and formal daywear for ladies is a requirement of entry to the Royal Enclosure.

Five days of action

Royal Ascot runs from Tuesday-Saturday in mid-June, with the 18th-22nd being the dates for 2024.

Each day does offer a different experience. Racing purists may enjoy the Tuesday or Wednesday of the Royal Meeting, while more casual racegoers may feel at home on Saturday.

Tuesday offers three Group 1 races, with the Queen Anne Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes and St James’s Palace Stakes all run on the opening day of the meeting. The St James's Palace Stakes is run over a mile for three-year-old colts and often can attract the winner of the England, Irish and French 2000 Guineas.

Tuesday and Wednesday offer superb racing, with slightly reduced crowds, but all of the atmosphere and pageantry associated with the Royal Meeting.

Those that can't take the day off during the week flock to Berkshire on Saturday for the final day of Royal Ascot. Racegoers will be sipping champagne, tucking into picnics, watching the Royal procession and, of course, enjoying the action on the track.

Whichever day you choose to attend, Royal Ascot offers a fantastic day out and a unique event unmatched anywhere in the world.

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