Next week is Royal Ascot, the worlds most glamorous racing festival. Ladies Day is a spectacular sight to behold. Be aware there is no prize giving.

13 Jun

It was Queen Anne in 1711 that first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot.  Whilst out riding near Windsor Castle she came upon an area of open heath that looked, in her words, “ideal for horses to gallop at full stretch”.

The first race meeting ever held at Ascot took place later that year, on Saturday 11th August. The inaugural event was Her Majesty’s Plate, worth 100 guineas and open to any horse, mare or gelding over six years of age.

The nature of the contest also bares little resemblance to modern day racing at Ascot.  That race consisted of three separate heats, each four miles long – about the length of today’s Grand National course.  The winning horse would have required tremendous stamina, but sadly there is no record of who claimed that first Plate.

Queen Anne’s gift to racing, founding the Royal Racecourse, is marked by the tradition of opening Royal Ascot with the Queen Anne Stakes.

The precise origins of the Royal Meeting are unclear, as the event evolved from the first four-day meeting that took place in 1768. The meeting as it’s known today only really started to take shape with the introduction of the Gold Cup in 1807.  Royal Ascot was the only race meeting held at Ascot until 1939.

To gain admittance to the Royal Enclosure Area membership is required ( which means being sponsored by someone who has been a member for four years). Until 1955, divorcees were not allowed in, and even today, anyone who has a criminal record or been declared bankrupt may be barred.

The Gold Cup remains the feature race of the third day of Royal Ascot, traditionally the busiest day of the week and colloquially known as “Ladies’ Day”. Ladies Day at Ascot as it is named is a celebration of style, however  there is no official Judge or Prizes.

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The Dos and Don’ts of dressing for the Royal Enclosure

Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress including a waistcoat and tie, with a top hat and black shoes.

Cravats are no longer accepted in the Royal Enclosure.

Customisation – such as the use of coloured ribbons or bands – is not permitted. A gentleman may remove his top 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.

Ladies are kindly reminded that formal day wear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure.

Ladies may wear a formal day dress, or skirt and top.  Dresses and skirts should be of modest length, defined as falling just above the knee or longer, and the straps on dresses and tops should be at least one inch wide (2.5cm).

Please note that strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted, and midriffs must be covered.

Jackets and pashminas may be worn, but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.

Trouser suits are welcome.  They should be of full length and of matching material and colour.

Hats should be worn.

A headpiece with a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.

Please note that fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure.


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