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Ascot Racecourse

For the private housing development named Royal Ascot in Hong Kong, see Royal Ascot, Hong Kong.
File:Ascot racecourse logo.jpg
Official website
Location Ascot, Berkshire
Coordinates Template:Coord/input/dms
Owned by Crown Estate
Date opened 11 August 1711
Screened on At The Races
Course type Flat
National Hunt
Notable Races Ascot Gold Cup

Ascot Racecourse is a famous English racecourse, located in the small town of Ascot, Berkshire, used for thoroughbred horse racing. It is one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom, hosting 9 of the UK's 32 annual Group 1 races, the same number as Newmarket. The course is closely associated with the British Royal Family, being approximately six miles from Windsor Castle, and owned by the Crown Estate.[1]

Ascot today stages twenty-five days of racing over the course of the year, comprising sixteen Flat meetings held in the months of May and October. The Royal Meeting, held in June, remains a major draw, the highlight being the Ascot Gold Cup. The most prestigious race is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes run over the course in July.



Ascot, Grand Stand, 1910, the field glasses are up as the top hats in the Grandstand watch the start of a race

Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. The first race, "Her Majesty's Plate," with a purse of 100 guineas, was held on 11 August 1711. Seven horses competed, each carrying a weight of 12 stones (76 kg). This first race comprised three separate four-mile (6437 m) heats.

In 1813, Parliament passed an act to ensure that the grounds would remain a public racecourse. In 1913, Parliament passed an act creating the Ascot Authority, an entity that manages the racecourse to this day. From its creation until 1945, the only racing that took place at Ascot was the Royal Meeting, a four-day event. Since that date, more fixtures have been introduced to the grounds, notably the Steeplechase and hurdles in 1965.

Ascot racecourse closed for a period of twenty months on 26 September 2004, for a £185 million redevelopment funded by Allied Irish Bank and designed by Populous and Buro Happold. As owner of the Ascot estate, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth reopened the racecourse on Tuesday 20 June 2006.

However upon re-opening, the new grandstand has attracted widespread criticism for failing to provide sufficient raised viewing for patrons to watch the racing, and devoting too much space to money-spinning restaurants and corporate hospitality facilities.[citation needed] At the end of 2006 a £10 million programme of further alterations was announced to improve the viewing from lower levels of the grandstand using an innovative steel composite product ("SPS" Sandwich plate system) to reprofile the existing concrete terraces. However, the upper levels provide far less accommodation for the everyday racegoer than was present in the former stand.[citation needed]

In March 2009 it was confirmed that the main sponsors of Ascot, William Hill would be ceasing their sponsorship deal, citing that the decision by the BBC to reduce live race coverage as the main reason in its decision making process.[2]

In July 2009, Ascot Racecourse also hosted the third round of the UAE President's Cup.[3]

Royal Ascot

Ascot, Royal Enclosure, 1907, a general view of that most exclusive of places on cup day

The centrepiece of Ascot’s year, Royal Ascot is one of Europe`s most famous race meetings,[citation needed] and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. Every year Royal Ascot is attended by HM Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family such as The Prince of Wales, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the Queens royal Standard. It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. There are 3 enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week

The Royal Enclosure - is the most prestigous of the 3 enclosures with recent visits from the Queen and Royal Family members. Access to the royal enclosure is resticted 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 4 years. For existing badgeholders, an invitation is sent out by Her Majesty's Representative to request badges. The badgeholders name is written onto the badge and can only be used by that person; the colours of the badges vary each day for one day applicants. Those in the Royal Enclosure have the opitions of fine dining and hospitality and a selection of bars. The Dress is strictly enforced, for Ladies only a day dress with a hat or fascinator is acceptable with rules applying to the length of the dress and ladies must not show bare midriffs or shoulders. For gentlemen a black or grey morning dress with top hat.

Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting. This leads to a split among racing fans, some of whom are glad to see racing in the spotlight, and getting more attention, while others do not like the meeting despite the quality of racing.

There are 16 Group races on offer, with at least one Group One event on each of the five days. The Ascot Gold Cup is on Ladies' Day on the Thursday. There is over £3,000,000 of prize money on offer.

Notable races

Hat in the Royal Enclosure 2009
High fashion and elegance at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot

Day 1

  • Ascot Stakes - Class 2 handicap
  • Windsor Castle Stakes - Listed

Day 2

  • Sandringham Handicap - Listed

Day 3

  • Britannia Stakes - Class 2 Heritage Handicap
  • Hampton Court Stakes - Listed
  • King George V Stakes - Class 2 handicap

Day 4

  • Wolferton Handicap - Listed
  • Buckingham Palace Handicap - Class 2 handicap

Day 5

  • Duke of Edinburgh Handicap - Class 2 handicap

Other flat races

  • UAE President's Cup

National Hunt races:

The new stand, completed in 2006 and designed by architects Populous and engineers Buro Happold and built by Laing O'Rourke.
The Queen's Enclosure is the area on the far right with the canopy. It was moved from when it was originally built as the racecourse was not particularly visible from the original position.

Ascot United

The racecourse is also home to Ascot United, who are located towards the eastern side of the site. A new clubhouse, stand and floodlighting have recently been erected.


The racecourse was used as a filming location in the James Bond film A View to a Kill in 1985, where Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) was beginning his mission to defeat the villainous Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), whose horses were competing in a race there.


External links

File:Ascot Racecoursemap 1947.png
A map of the Racecourse from 1947


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