The Royal Ascot Races

1valchloesmall Anne here, blogging about an event that's soon to start on the other side of the world — the Royal Ascot Races, also known as Ascot Week, which will take place from the 14th-18th June. 

I first learned a little of the history of the Royal Ascot when I was doing research for one of my books, His Captive Lady. Harry, my hero, and his friend Ethan, breed, train and race horses, and I'd planned to have some scenes take place at the races. Horse racing was a popular entertainment in the Regency but it's not often seen in books, and Ascot has always been a traditionally elegant and fashionable event. However, as often happens, that book took another direction and those scenes never did eventuate, so I'm using some of my research for another purpose. Royalenclosure1890s

The Royal Ascot Meeting is one of the premier race meetings of Europe and has been for generations. You might be wondering why the 'Royal' in the title. Well, it's an event that has been closely connected to the Royal family ever since its inception in 1711, when Queen Anne commissioned a course to  be laid out where horses could "gallop at a stretch"  about six miles from Windsor Castle. She further offered a prize of "Her Majesty's Plate" then worth a hundred guineas — a great deal of money in those days. (A guinea is one pound and one shilling, or twenty-one shillings.)

Royalprocession Ever since, the monarch and other members of the royal family have attended the Royal Ascot, turning it into an enormously fashionable event. Each day starts with the famed Royal Procession, where at 2pm, the royal family arrive at the racecourse in an open, horse-drawn carriage, making their way from the Golden Gates to the Royal Enclosure.

You might be interested to know this tradition was begun by George IV — better known to Regency readers as the Prince of Wales, the Regent of the Regency, "Prinny" to his friends. In 1825, when he was king, he and the rest of his party, in four carriages, drove up the centre of the racecourse in front of the crowds, and the tradition has continued to this day. Ascot1

The Queen is very keen on horse racing and attends each year, rarely missing a day, and is usually accompanied by  the other members of her family. This of course means that its a very popular day for royal-watchers, and the press keeps a close eye on the royal boxes. 

Racing is known as "the sport of kings" for a good reason: the Queen owns many racehorses, and so far has had 20 winners at Ascot. The Queen Mother was just as keen. Before he became a writer, bestselling crime writer Dick Francis was a champion jockey and rode for the The Queen Mother from 1953 to 1957. 

Significant races have been named after various royal personages; The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (run in July) and the Queen Anne Stakes, the King's Stand Stakes, St. James's Palace Stakes, Prince of Wales's Stakes and the Queen Mary Stakes. Royal_The+royal+box+in+1950

There's a strict dress code for the Royal Enclosure: ladies must wear a formal day dress, and a hat or fascinator. No bare shoulders or midriffs. Gentlemen are expected to wear black or grey morning dress and a top hat.  During the Regency, Beau Brummell, arbiter of fashion and still a close friend of the Prince Regent at that point, decreed that men of elegance should wear 'waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons.' The gentleman on our right, however, is dressed in morning dress from 1901. MorningDress1901

Strict dress codes don't stop people being outrageous however, and huge, bizarre and fabulous hats are particularly featured on Ladies' Day. I just love this red hat below. Click here for a glimpse of some of the fabulous and outrageous hats that have appeared at the Royal Ascot.

Redhat Ladies' Day isn't just about frivolity and hats, however — the Ascot Gold Cup is run on that day, with prize money of over £3,000,000. The Gold Cup was inaugurated in 1807.

 I'm not much of a one for going to the races, but I think if I were in England next week, I'd make a point of going to the Royal Ascot, for the fashion, the tradition, the elegance and the fun. Call it research. <G>

 So what about you? Are you a racegoer? A Royal watcher or observer of the rich and famous? A lover of outrageous hats? Would you go to the Royal Ascot or give it a miss?

55 thoughts on “The Royal Ascot Races”

  1. I am not a gambler, but (there is always a but) in 2008 I had my horse vet out for something routine and I asked him if there were any good horses running at the local track that year. Typically he always tells me.”Nope don’t waste your money”. This time he looks at me and says, “ Yep, I just treated the future Kentucky Derby winner”. Well come Derby day I was down there betting my money and I won!!! I love to watch the ponies run they truly are magnificent creatures.

    Reply
  2. I am not a gambler, but (there is always a but) in 2008 I had my horse vet out for something routine and I asked him if there were any good horses running at the local track that year. Typically he always tells me.”Nope don’t waste your money”. This time he looks at me and says, “ Yep, I just treated the future Kentucky Derby winner”. Well come Derby day I was down there betting my money and I won!!! I love to watch the ponies run they truly are magnificent creatures.

    Reply
  3. I am not a gambler, but (there is always a but) in 2008 I had my horse vet out for something routine and I asked him if there were any good horses running at the local track that year. Typically he always tells me.”Nope don’t waste your money”. This time he looks at me and says, “ Yep, I just treated the future Kentucky Derby winner”. Well come Derby day I was down there betting my money and I won!!! I love to watch the ponies run they truly are magnificent creatures.

    Reply
  4. I am not a gambler, but (there is always a but) in 2008 I had my horse vet out for something routine and I asked him if there were any good horses running at the local track that year. Typically he always tells me.”Nope don’t waste your money”. This time he looks at me and says, “ Yep, I just treated the future Kentucky Derby winner”. Well come Derby day I was down there betting my money and I won!!! I love to watch the ponies run they truly are magnificent creatures.

    Reply
  5. I am not a gambler, but (there is always a but) in 2008 I had my horse vet out for something routine and I asked him if there were any good horses running at the local track that year. Typically he always tells me.”Nope don’t waste your money”. This time he looks at me and says, “ Yep, I just treated the future Kentucky Derby winner”. Well come Derby day I was down there betting my money and I won!!! I love to watch the ponies run they truly are magnificent creatures.

    Reply
  6. Love the races! I used them in LORD SCANDAL. It was fun to reseach what people did at the, who went, etc. Not to mention who won. The names of the horses are really quite surprising: Soothsayer, Gohanna, Skyscraper (!), Smolensko, Smallhopes, Sir Richard, L’Huile de Venus, Pope Joan, Catgut, The Duchess. Just amazing.

    Reply
  7. Love the races! I used them in LORD SCANDAL. It was fun to reseach what people did at the, who went, etc. Not to mention who won. The names of the horses are really quite surprising: Soothsayer, Gohanna, Skyscraper (!), Smolensko, Smallhopes, Sir Richard, L’Huile de Venus, Pope Joan, Catgut, The Duchess. Just amazing.

    Reply
  8. Love the races! I used them in LORD SCANDAL. It was fun to reseach what people did at the, who went, etc. Not to mention who won. The names of the horses are really quite surprising: Soothsayer, Gohanna, Skyscraper (!), Smolensko, Smallhopes, Sir Richard, L’Huile de Venus, Pope Joan, Catgut, The Duchess. Just amazing.

    Reply
  9. Love the races! I used them in LORD SCANDAL. It was fun to reseach what people did at the, who went, etc. Not to mention who won. The names of the horses are really quite surprising: Soothsayer, Gohanna, Skyscraper (!), Smolensko, Smallhopes, Sir Richard, L’Huile de Venus, Pope Joan, Catgut, The Duchess. Just amazing.

    Reply
  10. Love the races! I used them in LORD SCANDAL. It was fun to reseach what people did at the, who went, etc. Not to mention who won. The names of the horses are really quite surprising: Soothsayer, Gohanna, Skyscraper (!), Smolensko, Smallhopes, Sir Richard, L’Huile de Venus, Pope Joan, Catgut, The Duchess. Just amazing.

    Reply
  11. I’ve been to Royal Ascot, a few years ago it was it was relocated to York (a very old racecourse dating back at least to the Romans). Ascot was being refurbished at the time.

    Reply
  12. I’ve been to Royal Ascot, a few years ago it was it was relocated to York (a very old racecourse dating back at least to the Romans). Ascot was being refurbished at the time.

    Reply
  13. I’ve been to Royal Ascot, a few years ago it was it was relocated to York (a very old racecourse dating back at least to the Romans). Ascot was being refurbished at the time.

    Reply
  14. I’ve been to Royal Ascot, a few years ago it was it was relocated to York (a very old racecourse dating back at least to the Romans). Ascot was being refurbished at the time.

    Reply
  15. I’ve been to Royal Ascot, a few years ago it was it was relocated to York (a very old racecourse dating back at least to the Romans). Ascot was being refurbished at the time.

    Reply
  16. Opening day at the local track (Del Mar) is “Hat Day” for the ladies. Some equally delightful hats appear. I looked thru the hats in the link. Amazing!
    I do follow the “Triple Crown” races. That is about my only race going.

    Reply
  17. Opening day at the local track (Del Mar) is “Hat Day” for the ladies. Some equally delightful hats appear. I looked thru the hats in the link. Amazing!
    I do follow the “Triple Crown” races. That is about my only race going.

    Reply
  18. Opening day at the local track (Del Mar) is “Hat Day” for the ladies. Some equally delightful hats appear. I looked thru the hats in the link. Amazing!
    I do follow the “Triple Crown” races. That is about my only race going.

    Reply
  19. Opening day at the local track (Del Mar) is “Hat Day” for the ladies. Some equally delightful hats appear. I looked thru the hats in the link. Amazing!
    I do follow the “Triple Crown” races. That is about my only race going.

    Reply
  20. Opening day at the local track (Del Mar) is “Hat Day” for the ladies. Some equally delightful hats appear. I looked thru the hats in the link. Amazing!
    I do follow the “Triple Crown” races. That is about my only race going.

    Reply
  21. I would love to go to Royal Ascot one day I have been to many race meetings here in Australia over the years not to have a bet but I do love watching the horses run there is something in seeing them just fly over the grass and the sound of all their hooves hitting the ground.
    And I do love all the hats and the way the Ladies dress up for some of the race meetings here in Australia.
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  22. I would love to go to Royal Ascot one day I have been to many race meetings here in Australia over the years not to have a bet but I do love watching the horses run there is something in seeing them just fly over the grass and the sound of all their hooves hitting the ground.
    And I do love all the hats and the way the Ladies dress up for some of the race meetings here in Australia.
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  23. I would love to go to Royal Ascot one day I have been to many race meetings here in Australia over the years not to have a bet but I do love watching the horses run there is something in seeing them just fly over the grass and the sound of all their hooves hitting the ground.
    And I do love all the hats and the way the Ladies dress up for some of the race meetings here in Australia.
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  24. I would love to go to Royal Ascot one day I have been to many race meetings here in Australia over the years not to have a bet but I do love watching the horses run there is something in seeing them just fly over the grass and the sound of all their hooves hitting the ground.
    And I do love all the hats and the way the Ladies dress up for some of the race meetings here in Australia.
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  25. I would love to go to Royal Ascot one day I have been to many race meetings here in Australia over the years not to have a bet but I do love watching the horses run there is something in seeing them just fly over the grass and the sound of all their hooves hitting the ground.
    And I do love all the hats and the way the Ladies dress up for some of the race meetings here in Australia.
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  26. Kat and Helen, I love watching the horses run, too. I might have an occasional bet but I’m a rotten gambler — almost never win anything and think I might as well throw money away. LOL.
    Many years ago I used to listen to a Comedy radio show called Punter to Punter and I occasionally followed “Dr Turf’s” tips. He was pretty good. But most of the time I don’t bother.
    So for me it’s all about the spectacle of the horses, the colors and in between, the people-watching.

    Reply
  27. Kat and Helen, I love watching the horses run, too. I might have an occasional bet but I’m a rotten gambler — almost never win anything and think I might as well throw money away. LOL.
    Many years ago I used to listen to a Comedy radio show called Punter to Punter and I occasionally followed “Dr Turf’s” tips. He was pretty good. But most of the time I don’t bother.
    So for me it’s all about the spectacle of the horses, the colors and in between, the people-watching.

    Reply
  28. Kat and Helen, I love watching the horses run, too. I might have an occasional bet but I’m a rotten gambler — almost never win anything and think I might as well throw money away. LOL.
    Many years ago I used to listen to a Comedy radio show called Punter to Punter and I occasionally followed “Dr Turf’s” tips. He was pretty good. But most of the time I don’t bother.
    So for me it’s all about the spectacle of the horses, the colors and in between, the people-watching.

    Reply
  29. Kat and Helen, I love watching the horses run, too. I might have an occasional bet but I’m a rotten gambler — almost never win anything and think I might as well throw money away. LOL.
    Many years ago I used to listen to a Comedy radio show called Punter to Punter and I occasionally followed “Dr Turf’s” tips. He was pretty good. But most of the time I don’t bother.
    So for me it’s all about the spectacle of the horses, the colors and in between, the people-watching.

    Reply
  30. Kat and Helen, I love watching the horses run, too. I might have an occasional bet but I’m a rotten gambler — almost never win anything and think I might as well throw money away. LOL.
    Many years ago I used to listen to a Comedy radio show called Punter to Punter and I occasionally followed “Dr Turf’s” tips. He was pretty good. But most of the time I don’t bother.
    So for me it’s all about the spectacle of the horses, the colors and in between, the people-watching.

    Reply
  31. Isobel, I must grab your Lord Scandal and read it. And yes, some of the names of the horses are soooo different to today. Mind you, there are some pretty crazy race-horse names out there today, too.
    Louis, I’d love to go to the races in the US one time, just to see the difference. The commentary is quite different in style, I believe. Most of the overseas races I’ve “been to” have been through Dick Francis books. He wrote set at with the Melbourne Cup and I couldn’t fault the research — spot on. Have you read Dick Francis’s books? I think you’d really enjoy them.

    Reply
  32. Isobel, I must grab your Lord Scandal and read it. And yes, some of the names of the horses are soooo different to today. Mind you, there are some pretty crazy race-horse names out there today, too.
    Louis, I’d love to go to the races in the US one time, just to see the difference. The commentary is quite different in style, I believe. Most of the overseas races I’ve “been to” have been through Dick Francis books. He wrote set at with the Melbourne Cup and I couldn’t fault the research — spot on. Have you read Dick Francis’s books? I think you’d really enjoy them.

    Reply
  33. Isobel, I must grab your Lord Scandal and read it. And yes, some of the names of the horses are soooo different to today. Mind you, there are some pretty crazy race-horse names out there today, too.
    Louis, I’d love to go to the races in the US one time, just to see the difference. The commentary is quite different in style, I believe. Most of the overseas races I’ve “been to” have been through Dick Francis books. He wrote set at with the Melbourne Cup and I couldn’t fault the research — spot on. Have you read Dick Francis’s books? I think you’d really enjoy them.

    Reply
  34. Isobel, I must grab your Lord Scandal and read it. And yes, some of the names of the horses are soooo different to today. Mind you, there are some pretty crazy race-horse names out there today, too.
    Louis, I’d love to go to the races in the US one time, just to see the difference. The commentary is quite different in style, I believe. Most of the overseas races I’ve “been to” have been through Dick Francis books. He wrote set at with the Melbourne Cup and I couldn’t fault the research — spot on. Have you read Dick Francis’s books? I think you’d really enjoy them.

    Reply
  35. Isobel, I must grab your Lord Scandal and read it. And yes, some of the names of the horses are soooo different to today. Mind you, there are some pretty crazy race-horse names out there today, too.
    Louis, I’d love to go to the races in the US one time, just to see the difference. The commentary is quite different in style, I believe. Most of the overseas races I’ve “been to” have been through Dick Francis books. He wrote set at with the Melbourne Cup and I couldn’t fault the research — spot on. Have you read Dick Francis’s books? I think you’d really enjoy them.

    Reply
  36. Joanna, how interesting to have the whole racecourse relocated temporarily. And I didn’t know York racecourse was so old. Wow. I’m working up to a visit to the UK in the next few years, and you’re whetting my appetite.

    Reply
  37. Joanna, how interesting to have the whole racecourse relocated temporarily. And I didn’t know York racecourse was so old. Wow. I’m working up to a visit to the UK in the next few years, and you’re whetting my appetite.

    Reply
  38. Joanna, how interesting to have the whole racecourse relocated temporarily. And I didn’t know York racecourse was so old. Wow. I’m working up to a visit to the UK in the next few years, and you’re whetting my appetite.

    Reply
  39. Joanna, how interesting to have the whole racecourse relocated temporarily. And I didn’t know York racecourse was so old. Wow. I’m working up to a visit to the UK in the next few years, and you’re whetting my appetite.

    Reply
  40. Joanna, how interesting to have the whole racecourse relocated temporarily. And I didn’t know York racecourse was so old. Wow. I’m working up to a visit to the UK in the next few years, and you’re whetting my appetite.

    Reply
  41. I would love to visit the Ascot races, not for the racing but for the fashions.
    Lady Gaga has yet to be seen wearing anything as outrageous as some of these hats!

    Reply
  42. I would love to visit the Ascot races, not for the racing but for the fashions.
    Lady Gaga has yet to be seen wearing anything as outrageous as some of these hats!

    Reply
  43. I would love to visit the Ascot races, not for the racing but for the fashions.
    Lady Gaga has yet to be seen wearing anything as outrageous as some of these hats!

    Reply
  44. I would love to visit the Ascot races, not for the racing but for the fashions.
    Lady Gaga has yet to be seen wearing anything as outrageous as some of these hats!

    Reply
  45. I would love to visit the Ascot races, not for the racing but for the fashions.
    Lady Gaga has yet to be seen wearing anything as outrageous as some of these hats!

    Reply
  46. I do love outrageous hats. I’d love to know how and where it started, because it seems to be something that happens at the top racecourses all over the world. Louis said they had them at Ladies Day at Del Mar, and the Melbourne Cup in my homo town is also famous for hats — Oaks Day in the same week is the traditional Ladies’ Day, and outrageous hats reign supreme there, too.
    Mind you, it’s not just at the races, is it? The ones people wore at Prince William’s wedding — some of which were so silly — like confections stapled to the side of the head — were fun, too.
    I have some wonderful historical millinery books. I might blog about that one day.

    Reply
  47. I do love outrageous hats. I’d love to know how and where it started, because it seems to be something that happens at the top racecourses all over the world. Louis said they had them at Ladies Day at Del Mar, and the Melbourne Cup in my homo town is also famous for hats — Oaks Day in the same week is the traditional Ladies’ Day, and outrageous hats reign supreme there, too.
    Mind you, it’s not just at the races, is it? The ones people wore at Prince William’s wedding — some of which were so silly — like confections stapled to the side of the head — were fun, too.
    I have some wonderful historical millinery books. I might blog about that one day.

    Reply
  48. I do love outrageous hats. I’d love to know how and where it started, because it seems to be something that happens at the top racecourses all over the world. Louis said they had them at Ladies Day at Del Mar, and the Melbourne Cup in my homo town is also famous for hats — Oaks Day in the same week is the traditional Ladies’ Day, and outrageous hats reign supreme there, too.
    Mind you, it’s not just at the races, is it? The ones people wore at Prince William’s wedding — some of which were so silly — like confections stapled to the side of the head — were fun, too.
    I have some wonderful historical millinery books. I might blog about that one day.

    Reply
  49. I do love outrageous hats. I’d love to know how and where it started, because it seems to be something that happens at the top racecourses all over the world. Louis said they had them at Ladies Day at Del Mar, and the Melbourne Cup in my homo town is also famous for hats — Oaks Day in the same week is the traditional Ladies’ Day, and outrageous hats reign supreme there, too.
    Mind you, it’s not just at the races, is it? The ones people wore at Prince William’s wedding — some of which were so silly — like confections stapled to the side of the head — were fun, too.
    I have some wonderful historical millinery books. I might blog about that one day.

    Reply
  50. I do love outrageous hats. I’d love to know how and where it started, because it seems to be something that happens at the top racecourses all over the world. Louis said they had them at Ladies Day at Del Mar, and the Melbourne Cup in my homo town is also famous for hats — Oaks Day in the same week is the traditional Ladies’ Day, and outrageous hats reign supreme there, too.
    Mind you, it’s not just at the races, is it? The ones people wore at Prince William’s wedding — some of which were so silly — like confections stapled to the side of the head — were fun, too.
    I have some wonderful historical millinery books. I might blog about that one day.

    Reply
  51. I’d love to see a blog about your historical millinery books, Anne !
    I’ve never been to Royal Ascot, but I would really like to go one day. I am a huge fan of horse racing on this and the other side of the pond. My brother and his wife have a Derby Day party complete with hats worn by the ladies on the day of the Kentucky Derby.
    A hundred years ago, or at least a hundred or so pounds ago when I was a young girl and we lived in England I rode as an exercise “boy” for the local squire who raised racehorses. It was a great job as it kept me where any young girl would want to be – near the horses!

    Reply
  52. I’d love to see a blog about your historical millinery books, Anne !
    I’ve never been to Royal Ascot, but I would really like to go one day. I am a huge fan of horse racing on this and the other side of the pond. My brother and his wife have a Derby Day party complete with hats worn by the ladies on the day of the Kentucky Derby.
    A hundred years ago, or at least a hundred or so pounds ago when I was a young girl and we lived in England I rode as an exercise “boy” for the local squire who raised racehorses. It was a great job as it kept me where any young girl would want to be – near the horses!

    Reply
  53. I’d love to see a blog about your historical millinery books, Anne !
    I’ve never been to Royal Ascot, but I would really like to go one day. I am a huge fan of horse racing on this and the other side of the pond. My brother and his wife have a Derby Day party complete with hats worn by the ladies on the day of the Kentucky Derby.
    A hundred years ago, or at least a hundred or so pounds ago when I was a young girl and we lived in England I rode as an exercise “boy” for the local squire who raised racehorses. It was a great job as it kept me where any young girl would want to be – near the horses!

    Reply
  54. I’d love to see a blog about your historical millinery books, Anne !
    I’ve never been to Royal Ascot, but I would really like to go one day. I am a huge fan of horse racing on this and the other side of the pond. My brother and his wife have a Derby Day party complete with hats worn by the ladies on the day of the Kentucky Derby.
    A hundred years ago, or at least a hundred or so pounds ago when I was a young girl and we lived in England I rode as an exercise “boy” for the local squire who raised racehorses. It was a great job as it kept me where any young girl would want to be – near the horses!

    Reply
  55. I’d love to see a blog about your historical millinery books, Anne !
    I’ve never been to Royal Ascot, but I would really like to go one day. I am a huge fan of horse racing on this and the other side of the pond. My brother and his wife have a Derby Day party complete with hats worn by the ladies on the day of the Kentucky Derby.
    A hundred years ago, or at least a hundred or so pounds ago when I was a young girl and we lived in England I rode as an exercise “boy” for the local squire who raised racehorses. It was a great job as it kept me where any young girl would want to be – near the horses!

    Reply

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