Royal Ascot Beginners Guide
Each year in June, Royal Ascot Racecourse plays host to the Royal Family, the world’s top thoroughbreds, and 300,000 people wearing hats for a five day racing extravaganza.
Full of history and tradition, Royal Ascot is simultaneously a top social occasion and sporting event. It can seem unfamiliar if you’re not used to it, but these five days are a huge amount of fun. Here is a Royal Ascot guide to get you started! Check out the latest Royal Ascot betting odds at Coral!
What is Royal Ascot?
Ascot Racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, so the connections to Royalty run deep. The annual “Royal Ascot” festival we know today dates back to June 1911 – the same month George V (The Queen’s grandfather) ascended to the throne.
As well as being an official Royal occasion, Royal Ascot is thought to be one of The Queen’s personal favourites. She has attended every Royal Ascot during her 66 year reign.
Where is Royal Ascot?
One reason Her Majesty might be so keen on Royal Ascot is its location. Ascot Racecourse is just six miles from Windsor Castle. It is also just a half hour west of London’s Heathrow Airport, making it perfectly positioned for international visitors.
When is Royal Ascot?
Wondering when does Royal Ascot start? This year it takes place over five days from Tuesday 18th June to Saturday 22nd June. Royal Ascot opening time is at 10:30am each morning, when the famous “Greencoats” open the gates.
Six races are scheduled for each day, with the first starting at 2:30pm. The final race takes place each day at 5:35pm.
What is the Royal Ascot Procession?
The non-racing highlight of each day is undoubtedly the Royal Procession at Ascot, when The Queen and other Royals arrive in a horse drawn carriage. Travelling along part of the course known as the Straight Mile, this is the moment of truth if you’ve placed a bet on what colour dress Her Majesty will be wearing.
What time is the Royal Procession at Ascot?
The Royals make their grand entrance every day at 2pm, half an hour before the first race. Don’t be late!
Royal Ascot Day Guide
Each day during Royal Ascot has its own distinct traditions and atmosphere. Here’s what you need to know:
Royal Ascot Day 1 – Tuesday 18th June 2019
The first day of Royal Ascot has a reputation for being the most formal and traditional. There is a real sense of excitement in the air as the gates open, and everyone is ready to try out their Edwardian manners.
The opening day is also especially good for quality fixtures, with half of the day’s races falling into the top “Group 1” category: The Queen Anne Stakes at 2:30pm, The King’s Stand Stakes at 3:40pm, and The St James Palace Stakes at 4:20pm.
Royal Ascot Day 2 – Wednesday 19th June 2019
After a focus on formality during the first day, the serious business of placing bets becomes more of a priority on the second day. Stakes are raised, and traditionally more money is won or lost on Wednesday than any other day.
The day’s racing highlight is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, scheduled for 3:40pm, which is the only Group 1 race of the day.
Royal Ascot Day 3 – Royal Ascot Ladies Day 20th June 2019
Thursday is Ascot’s world-famous Ladies Day. Men attend in huge numbers as well, of course, but on Thursday they are overshadowed by the glamorous frocks and enormous hats worn by female spectators.
Besides being one of the top moments on the social calendar, Thursday also features the highlight of the Royal Ascot racing schedule: the Gold Cup. The two miles, three-furlong race for horses four years old and up takes place at 4:20pm, and will be the focus of everyone’s full attention for four and a half minutes. With a total purse of £500,000 (including £283,550 for the winner), the Gold Cup is Royal Ascot’s most valuable race.
Her Majesty The Queen made history in 2013 when her filly, Estimate, won the Gold Cup. It was the first time the Gold Cup had been won by a reigning monarch.
Royal Ascot Day 4 – Friday 21st June 2019
With the social whirl of Royal Ascot Ladies Day complete, the last two days of Royal Ascot have a reputation for a more relaxed atmosphere (but not too relaxed, of course). As the working week winds down, it is also a time when the crowd tends to get younger and livelier.
Racing enthusiasts have plenty to focus on, with two Group 1 races on the card: the Commonwealth Cup at 3:40pm and the Coronation Stakes at 4:20pm. The Coronation Stakes is one of the oldest at Royal Ascot after the Gold Cup, established in 1840 to celebrate the relatively recent crowning of Queen Victoria.
Royal Ascot Day 5 – Saturday 22nd June 2019
With the weekend firmly underway (and Monday morning still two days off), the last day of Royal Ascot is the most relaxed of the five.
The last Group 1 race of Royal Ascot, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, takes place at 4:20pm. Originally called the All-Aged Stakes, the race was first renamed for Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. The name was updated ten years later to mark 60 years on the throne. Will it become the Platinum Jubilee Stakes in 2022?
Royal Ascot Dress Code
If you’re wondering what to wear at Royal Ascot, it all depends on where you plan to be. There is a different Royal Ascot Dress Code for each enclosure.
When hobnobbing with Royalty you should expect to look your best. Women must wear hats and should wear dresses that extend below the knee. Shoulder straps are required and should be one-inch wider or more. Tummies must be covered.
Men are expected to wear black or grey morning suits, plus a top hat. Coloured ribbons on hats or bow ties are not permitted.
Queen Anne Enclosure
The dress code for ladies is slightly relaxed for the Queen Anne Enclosure. Strapless dresses are still out, but there is no restriction on the width of the straps.
Men must wear a full suit and tie with a matching jacket and trousers. No waistcoat or hat is required, but bow ties are still a no-no. Jeans and chinos are firmly out of bounds.
The Village Enclosure
The dress code for ladies is exactly the same for the Village Enclosure as it is for the Queen Anne Enclosure.
Standards for men are a bit looser, however. The requirement that jackets and trousers match is dropped, and chinos are not explicitly banned. Bow ties remain strictly verboten.
The Windsor Enclosure
If dress codes aren’t your thing, the Windsor Enclosure is the place to be.
But no Royal Ascot Enclosure Dress Code does not mean no standards. Fancy dress, novelty and branded or promotional clothing is not permitted. Women are encouraged to wear hats, and men are encouraged to wear jackets, collared shirts, and full-length trousers.
Love your bow ties? The Windsor Enclosure is your safe space.