You have probably tuned into Royal Hats today to see coverage of Day 1 at Ascot! Ascot posts won’t be up until late in the day in North America (thanks to late-day photo agency releases and coordinating guest milliner commentary from around the globe). But don’t worry- there is lots to share in the meantime including this final post from reader and guest poster Charles, who will be at the races today!
In conversations to plan these wonderful posts about preparing to attend Ascot this week, I asked Charles to explain what makes this event so memorable and enjoyable. His wonderful in-depth answer will get us all in the “Ascot mood” (don’t worry- this is not the end of Charles’ wonderfully witty musings. He will return after Ascot to share stories of his attendance this year!).
As with many things that one has to personally experience to fully understand, a day at Royal Ascot is an incredibly enjoyable experience. As I’ve shared with friends over the years since first attending – what’s not to like? The Ascot Racecourse itself is a beautiful, modern sporting facility with all the amenities one would expect from a First Class venue. Even if you arrive a bit early and find yourself in a queue (that’s a line for non-UK types!) the people you meet while waiting let you know the day will be something special. Everyone is dressed in their finest attire which gives even a waiting line a certain air of excitement.
Upon entering the actual grounds of Ascot and the Royal Enclosure the people watching begins – and what better time to have that first glass of champagne? We’ve always pre-reserved at one of the several fine dining restaurants available in the Royal Enclosure so within an hour or so of arrival we sit down to a lovely three-course luncheon and more delicious champagne or wine (do you see a pattern here?)
After luncheon there is time to stroll the grounds of both the Royal Enclosure and other areas of the facility, which always includes a visit to the Pre-Parade Ring to see a close-up view of the beautiful and magnificent horses as they are being prepared for the coming races.
If you see a lady with a beautiful hat or outfit, you simply walk up and tell her how lovely she looks. If you see a gentleman with a smart antique silk top hat, you walk up and compliment him. Moments like that have turned into lovely friendships or, at the very least, a nice encounter that certainly includes a smile and a “thank you!”
As mentioned earlier, the Royal Procession is a must-see. If for no other reason, you have to watch the procession to learn if you won your bet on the color of Her Majesty’s hat! Yes, you can vote each day on the colour of the hat with accompanying odds and payouts for the most and least likely colours. I once won on the bet of purple! Thank you Your Majesty!
The pace of the races themselves are very well planned. Each race is planned approximately 45 minutes after the previous race – time for another glass of champagne and to collect your winnings, and to place your bet for the next race. The amount of money required to place a bet is actually quite low but by placing a bet it does make you much more interested in the outcome of the race – and how the horse you bet on performed in the race. It is very exciting to see the colors of your horse cross the finishing post in first place!
If you are so inclined you can make your way to the Parade Ring after the race where the winning horse, jockey, and owners gather to receive their trophy. This is another good opportunity to see a member of the Royal Family as various members are assigned the task of rewarding the trophies throughout the day.
After the racing (and what is now LOTS of champagne!) you can either make your way home to recover for tomorrow’s day at the races or, if you have the energy, gather with folks from all the various enclosures around the bandstand to sing patriotic songs into the evening. Needless to say, if everyone has been drinking champagne or other libations all day it makes for some festive singing and yet another opportunity to make new friends.