All You Need To Know About Royal Ascot

Features | 15th June 2022

Royal Ascot is the world’s most famous race meeting.


Royalty and Style

The very best horses take each other on with some of the most prestigious prizes in racing up for grabs during one of the great social events of the British sporting summer.

There are eight Group 1 contests – the highest grade of race – as well as some of the most historic trophies in the supporting races for horses shy of the top level. The Queen, as the meeting’s title suggests, is integral to Royal Ascot. Her Majesty and her guests arrive at the course from Windsor Castle in spectacular horse‐drawn carriages before the racing starts each day. 

The meeting is synonymous with its traditional dress code. In the Royal Enclosure – the most prestigious area for racegoers – men are required to wear morning dress of tailcoats and top hats. The origins of the dress code dates back to the early 19th Century when Beau Brummel, a close friend of the Prince Regent, decided that ‘men of elegance’ should wear waisted black coats with white cravats and pantaloons. 

There are strict rules on the length of the dresses that can be worn by lady visitors and a hat is also required making for some quite stunning fashion sights.

The Queen arriving to Ascot

Breathtaking Racing 

Royal Ascot has helped create the greatest champions. Frankel, considered by some to be the best horse of all time, won Group 1 races at the five‐day meeting in both 2011 and 2012. 

The prestige of the glittering racing showpiece attracts horses from all over the world. This year, there will be runners from Japan, Australia and America taking on the cream of the British and Irish Flat racing stars as well as the best the European nations have to offer. 

It’s not just the world’s best horses that are drawn to Royal Ascot. The jockeys’ changing rooms always have an international flavour with some of the best riders from around the globe arriving at the track hoping to win one of the coveted races. 

As well as the draw of lifting one of racing’s greatest prizes, there is also the financial reward. This year there is £8.65million in prizemoney up for grabs across the 35 races. That is a record for the meeting, which dates back to 1768 when a four‐day event was held for the first time. The introduction of the Gold Cup – the season’s big prize for ‘staying’ horses run over the stamina‐ sapping 2m4f distance – was when the meeting started to resemble the wonderful festival we know today.

Frankel winning in 2011 at Ascot

The Big Races

As well as the Gold Cup, traditionally presented to the owner of the winning horse by the Queen, Royal Ascot hosts some of Britain’s most famous races. It all kicks off with the Queen Anne Stakes, one of the season’s big mile races, on Tuesday. 

Other Group 1 highlights of the week are the King’s Stand Stakes for the fastest sprinters, the St James’s Palace Stakes, the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and the Coronation Stakes. The feature on Saturday, the final day of the meeting, is the Platinum Jubilee Stakes, which will be run under its new title for the first time this year having previous been called the Golden Jubilee Stakes and then the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. 

The meeting also holds some of the season’s most prestigious handicaps. These are races where the horses carry different weights depending on their perceived ability in order to level the playing field. The Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham are the most famous of the handicaps. There is also six contests confined to two‐year‐olds, the youngest horses to race. 

At Royal Ascot, with its cherished pomp and circumstance, there really is something for everyone