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What is the history of Royal Ascot?

The history of Ascot Racecourse dates back over 300 years to the time of Queen Anne (1665-1714). Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. The first race held at the track was the Her Majesty's Plate on the 11th of August 1711 and carried a prize of 100 guineas. Seven horses competed in this first race which comprised of three separate four-mile (6437 m) heats. Each heat was about the length of the Grand National. Handicap races started at Ascot in 1791 with the first one being the Oatlands Handicap.

Every year Royal Ascot is attended by Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family such as The Prince of Wales. Since 1825 the first highlight of every day is the arrival of the Royal procession at 2pm. Four horse-drawn carriages carry the Queen and guests along the seven furlong straight mile first past the Windsor Enclosure then the Queen Anne Enclosure and Royal Enclosure before traveling under the grandstand to the Parade Ring. On the Queens arrival their is the raising of the Queen's Royal Standard and the days racing can commence.

2002 saw the meet move from 4 days to 5 days to mark The Queen's Golden Jubilee. The Queen attends all 5 days of the Royal meet with guests each day including various members of the Royal family. You may see the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princesses Eugene and Beatrice. Ascot Racecourse is situated ideally just 6 miles from Windsor Castle.

It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and their attire often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. There are four main enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week; The Royal Enclosure, The Queen Anne Enclosure, The Village and The Windsor Enclosure.

Whilst fashion and attendees is a large part of Royal Ascot it is also the most valuable race meet in Britain. In 2018 the 5 day meet saw £7.3 million in prize money. The 5 day meet usually sees 30 races with around 18 at group level of which 8 are usually the highest Group 1 races.

Historically, Ascot Racecourse redevelops every 50 years or so. In 2005, whilst Ascot was closed for its redevelopment, the Royal Meeting was staged in York, providing the city with its biggest ever sporting event. The city, region and racecourse threw themselves into the extravaganza, which saw expansion into the Knavesmire so as to accommodate circa 50,000 people each day.

Ascot's much loved tradition of "singing around the bandstand" or "community singing" began in the 1970s under the stewardship of Lady Beaumont, wife of the then Clerk of the Course, Captain Sir Nicholas Beaumont. The now unmissable sing song of British favourites and flag waving after racing was an immediate success with thousands of racegoers staying on and making it an integral part of their day. Now, traditional singing is listed as part of the day's formal proceedings in the racecard and song books and flags are handed round.

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Royal Ascot 2020 - 16th to 20th of June
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PP Travel Royal Ascot Options

:: Ladies Day Gold Cup - Thursday - From £94

:: Coronation Stakes - Friday - From £84

:: Finale Day - Saturday - From £94
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