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Explore Royal Ascot Racecourse

What is Royal Ascot?

Royal Ascot, also known as the Royal Meeting, is a horse racing event that lasts 5 days and is held every year in the Ascot Racecourse. The racecourse is only 6 miles away from Windsor, and it is located on land owned by the Royal Family. This land is leased to the British Horseracing Authority who organise the event each year.

Royal Ascot is held in the middle of June and is one of the most visited horse racing events in the year, with 300,000 visitors coming to the 5 day event each year. To put that number into perspective, it is approximately 5% of the attendance of all racing events across Britain in a year. A further 300,000 people visit the Ascot Racecourse for the additional events during the racing season.

One of the reasons why Royal Ascot is so popular is because it is attended by members of the Royal Family and the event is full of ceremony and glamour. Starting with the Royal Procession, when the Royal Family are driven in coaches to the Royal Enclosure, Royal Ascot is truly a memorable experience for racegoers.

Royal Ascot Racecourse

The racecourse has a rounded edged triangular shape, with an extended straight track called the long straight that stretches beyond the enclosures, and another extended straight track that extends outwards away from the enclosures. When looking from above all of the longer distance races, from 1 mile 2 furlongs to 2 miles, are run clockwise around the triangle until they reach the set finish line in front of the Royal Enclosure.

The shorter races, which range from 5 furlongs to 1 mile, are run across the long straight. These races are run in a straight line and start from the designated points on the long straight, and are run to the finish line in front of the Royal Enclosure.

All races are run by these rules, with the exception of the St James's Palace Stakes, which is a 1 mile long race that starts on the other extended straight (that extends away from the enclosures), and has a turn around the edge of the triangle, before it continues towards the finish line in front of the Royal Enclosure.

Royal Ascot has a variety of races that are run over different distances. These races are open to different sexes and horse age groups, and some of them are Group 1 graded events, others are Group 2 or Group 3, and there are a number of races that are non-graded events.

There are 4 races that are run over a distance of 5 furlongs. These are the King's Stand Stakes, Queen Mary Stakes, Norfolk Stakes and the Windsor Castle Stakes.

There are 5 races run over a distance of 6 furlongs, including the Coventry Stakes, Albany Stakes, Commonwealth Cup, Diamond Jubilee Stakes and Wokingham Stakes.

There are 3 races run over a distance of 7 furlongs, including the Buckingham Palace Stakes, Jersey Stakes and the Chesham Stakes.

There are 7 races run over a distance of 1 mile, including the Queen Anne Stakes, St James's Palace Stakes, Duke of Cambridge Stakes, Royal Hunt Cup Stakes, Sandringham Stakes, Britannia Stakes and the Coronation Stakes.

There are 3 races run over a distance of 1 mile and 2 furlongs, including the Wolferton Stakes, Prince of Wales's Stakes and the Hampton Court Stakes.

There are 5 races run over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs, including the Ribblesdale Stakes, King George V Stakes, King Edward VII Stakes, Duke of Edinburgh Stakes and the Hardwicke Stakes.

One stake is run at a distance of 1 mile and 6 furlongs, which is the Queen's Vase.

There are 3 races that are run over a distance of more than 2 miles, these are the Ascot Stakes and Gold Cup, which are run over a distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs, and the Queen Alexandra Stakes that is run over a distance of 2 miles 5 furlongs and 159 yards.

Royal Ascot Seating Arrangements

There are a few options when it comes to where to sit to watch the races.

The Windsor Enclosure

This is the most laid back, it has extensive lawns and a number of dining options for racegoers. Here, visitors will be able to sit very close to the action, right in front of the Straight mile section of the racecourse. These guests will be the first to see the Royal Procession as it travels down the straight mile and heads towards the Royal Enclosure. The Windsor Enclosure has live music and no formal dress codes, making it perfect for casual racegoers who may want to travel in groups.

The Village Enclosure

This enclosure is located behind the flat track, at the end of the straight mile. This enclosure is located within the triangular race course, and is only open for the last three days of the Royal Meeting. This unique position gives racegoers the chance to watch the races more closely, whilst enjoying the street food and al fresco dining options inside the enclosure. There is a dress code for the Village Enclosure, but it is not as formal as the other enclosures.

Queen Anne Enclosure

Racegoers who want to have the most glamorous experience can book tickets at the Queen Anne Enclosure. Here, visitors  will have access to the huge grandstand, and can choose between elevated seating that is covered, or to take seats on the lawn right in front of the final stretch of the flat track. They will be right in the heart of the action and can enjoy a huge selection of premium dining options and bars. Visitors will have to adhere to the formal dress codes as they will be right in the centre of the course and can enjoy the views of the Parade Ring behind the Grandstand up close.

Royal Enclosure

The Royal Enclosure is only available to club members or by invitation from the Royal Family. This enclosure sits beside the Grandstand and has views directly in front of the finish line. The enclosure can trace its heritage back to 1807 when the area was reserved for the family, guests and Household of King George III. Over the years many Monarchs have visited the enclosure, including Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, her son King Edward VII, and most of the extended Royal Family in the 19th century that extended to the Royal Families in other countries. The enclosure had an extension in 1961, when Queen Elizabeth II commissioned the Queen Elizabeth II Grandstand.

How to Make the Most Out Of Your Visit

For racegoers who are new to horse racing or for those who have been to many races, Royal Ascot is one of the best horse racing experiences to be had. The grounds are huge, and whichever enclosure guests choose to buy tickets for, there are plenty of options for dining and great views of the races. These make for a perfect day programme for couples, families or larger groups who want to spend a day at the most lavish of all of the horse racecourses. Whilst waiting for the races, the visitors can explore the grounds a bit or spend time in the Ascot shop where they can pick up some fantastic souvenirs to remember the day by. The shop has an exclusive collection of iconic British brands such as L.K. Bennett, Radley London and Charbonnel et Walker. There are also a number of gifts and accessories that make for perfect presents for family or friends.

When the races are announced, visitors can make their way back to their seats and then watch the horses as they make their way up to the starting gates. The action will begin when the gates open and the horses bolt down the track. With the exception of the first day, which has 7 races, all other race days feature 6 races.

There is plenty of fun to be had at the race track, and some visitors may choose to place some bets on the races. This can definitely add to the adrenaline and excitement that comes with each race. Betting on horses at the races is extremely common, and most visitors try their luck by placing small bets on the races.

Whilst betting on horse races can be fun, it is always important to remember to gamble responsibly. Any bettor who feels like they are playing with too much money or needs some guidance on how to gamble responsibly can look up organisations such as for help and guidance.

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