Ascot Racecourse is one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom, hosting almost a third of the prestigious Group 1 races. The course is closely associated with the British Royal Family, being located only six miles from Windsor Castle. The Royal Family through the Crown Estate is also involved in the ownership of the racecourse.
The Royal Meeting, held in June is one of Britain’s most famous race meetings and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne . For many years the Royal meeting was the only racing meeting at Ascot.
Royal Ascot is Britain’s most valuable race meeting, attracting many of the world’s finest racehorses to compete for more than £5.5milllion in prize money. There are eighteen Group races, eight of them in Group One. Although no Classic Races are run , there is top class racing, the most famous being the Ascot Gold Cup. Other major races are St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes.
Part of the tradition of Royal Ascot is the Royal Procession, on every day of the meeting just before racing HM Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family go down the course in a horse-drawn carriage.
Royal Ascot has for centuries been considered a major event in the British social calendar, however in more recent times it has become considered as much for its fashion and style than for its racing. There is extensive media coverage of who is attending and what they are wearing .
For those who wish to attend there are three main enclosures available for Royal Ascot week.
The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three enclosures, frequented by the Queen and Royal Family members. Access to the Royal Enclosure is restricted, with high security on the day. First-time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure Office and gain membership from someone who has attended the enclosure for at least four years.
In the Royal Enclosure there are a wide range of options for dining and hospitality, and a selection of bars.
The next enclosure is the Queen Anne Enclosure which is the premier public area for racegoers , a wide range of facilities and access to the paddock and winning circle.
Finally is the less formal Windsor Enclosure and in the middle of the course the Heath Enclosure. Less expensive but no access to the rest of the enclosures and no access to the paddock and winning enclosure. Facilities are as not as extensive as the other two options.
What really sets Royal Ascot apart from most of the other race meetings is its very strict dress code, if you are going into the Royal Enclosure or the Grandstand the code is strictly enforced.
So if you are thinking about attending, read the codes very carefully:
Queen Anne Enclosure
The dress code set out below is designed to help racegoers dress appropriately for the occasion.
Ladies are kindly reminded that formal daywear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure, defined as follows:
Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
Jackets and pashminas may be worn, but the dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
Trouser suits are welcome. They should be full length and of matching material and colour.
Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:
Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
Midriffs must be covered.
Fascinators are no longer permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm).
Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear black or grey morning dress, which must include.
A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
A black or grey top hat
A gentleman may remove his hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden. The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
Girls (aged 10-16) should dress for a formal occasion. Smart summer dresses are suggested. Hats, headpieces and fascinators may be worn but are not compulsory.
Boys (aged 10-16) should dress in accordance with the gentlemen’s dress code, or may wear a dark-coloured lounge suit with a shirt and tie (no hat required).
Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal National Dress of their country or Service Dress.
Serving military personnel
Serving military personnel are welcome to wear Service Dress or equivalent.
Queen Anne Enclosure
Queen Anne Enclosure racegoers have the choice to follow the dress code for the Grandstand or that of the Royal Enclosure.
Ladies within the main Grandstand Enclosure are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion.
Ladies are kindly asked to take particular note of the following:
A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted.
Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above (i.e. strapless or sheer strap tops are not permitted).
Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Grandstand Admission dress code.
Midriffs must be covered.
Shorts are not permitted.
Gentlemen are required to wear a suit with a shirt and tie.
Girls (17 or under) should be dressed for a formal occasion. Smart summer dresses are suggested. Hats, headpieces and fascinators may be worn but are not compulsory.
Boys aged (13-17) should wear a suit or jacket with a shirt and a tie. Younger boys (12 or under) should be dressed smartly but are not required to wear a jacket or tie.
Windsor Enclosure & Heath Enclosure
Although no formal dress code applies in the Windsor Enclosure and Heath Enclosure, racegoers are encouraged to wear smart clothes.
Please note that bare chests are not permitted at any time.
Travelling to Ascot
By Car: From London and the North:- M4 Junction 6 onto A332 Windsor by-pass and follow signs to Ascot. From the West:- M4 Junction 10 onto A329(M) signed Bracknell and follow signs to Ascot. From the South and East:- M3 Junction 3 onto A332 signed Bracknell and follow signs to Ascot M25 Junction 13 onto the A30 (signed Bagshot), then join the A329 and follow the signs to Ascot. From the Midlands:- M40 southbound, Junction 4. Take A404 towards M4 (Junction 8/9). On the M4 head towards Heathrow/London. Leave M4 at Junction 6 and follow A332 Windsor by-pass to Ascot.
By Rail: There is a frequent train service to Ascot from both Reading and London Waterloo. The average journey time is 27 minutes from Reading and 46 minutes from Waterloo. Regular services also run from Guildford. The Racecourse, which is clearly sign posted, is a short 5 to 10 minute walk from the station.
For further information and tickets, visit the Royal Ascot website here
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