Soaked in tradition and glamor, the event dates back to 1711 and comes with the royal seal of approval.

Royal approval

Her Majesty arrives each day in a horse-drawn carriage with other members of the royal family, a practice dating back to 1825. The royal procession conveys the monarch from nearby Windsor Castle, past the packed grandstands, to the Royal Enclosure.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, made her first appearance at Ascot last year joining Prince Harry and the Queen for the first day of the race meeting.
“It’s not an official occasion for her [the Queen] but she comes because she loves horse racing so much. It makes you very proud to be British,” said Aly Vance, host of CNN’s Winning Post.
Ascot Racecourse itself is one of the world’s most beautiful venues to watch the sport of kings.

It features two tracks — flat and jumps — on a greensward about six miles from Windsor Castle.

In fact, it’s technically still the property of the British royal family, however Parliament passed a special act in 1813 to ensure that the course remains public.

High fashion

Paying homage to tradition, visitors are expected to adhere to the strictest of dress codes.

Men’s fashion has remained relatively unchanged for centuries, with those in the Royal Enclosure asked to wear black or grey morning dress and top hats.

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Women must wear a dress or skirt that comes below the knee, with straps of at least one inch in width. Jump suits or trousers are now allowed and hats or headpieces with a solid bases of four inches must be worn.

However, within the rules and regulations, there is plenty of room to be adventurous and the choice of head wear is always a hot topic of conversation.

Women are encouraged to save their best outfits for Ladies’ Day, a long-lasting tradition which has become a highlight of the social calendar.

“It’s not more important than the horse racing but fashion is a huge element of Royal Ascot,” added Vance.

“It’s a very different fashion, very elegant. Having a traditional dress code but where you can be a little adventurous. You seem some amazing outfits over the week.”

Queen Elizabeth II arrives with the Royal Procession during Royal Ascot last year.

Not only is Royal Ascot a jewel in the racing calendar, it’s also one of the important events in the British summer social scene, along with the Henley Royal Regatta and Wimbledon.

“It’s as much a social occasion as it is a sporting occasion,” said Vance.

“There are a huge number of people there who probably don’t go to any other race meeting but will go to Royal Ascot because it’s a place to be seen at.”

Richest race

Amidst the pomp and ceremony, the stellar racing action is the centerpiece of the week.

There are six races a day for the five days of the meeting with eight Grade One contests. In all, runners and riders are competing for a share of the $8.85m (£7 million) prize purse.

Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’ Stakes is the richest race, with the winner claiming just shy of $1 million (£750,000).

“It features a horse called Sea Of Class, who finished second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year, and also Masar who won the Epsom Derby last year,” Vance said, identifying the race as the highlight of the week.

“Both are running their first race of the season so it’s going to be interesting. It will be an exciting race for the purists.”

Queen Elizabeth II presents Frankie Dettori with the Ascot Gold Cup in 2018.

The Gold Cup

Thursday’s Gold Cup, a marathon of more than two miles, is Ascot’s oldest surviving race.

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The Queen will present the victorious jockey and owner with their trophies.

A number of runners are also traveling in from abroad in the hope of winning one of the prestigious contests.

Horses from New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and the US are expected to line up, adding an international flavor to the week.

“All connections just adore that meeting,” said the 10-time champion trainer Michael Stoute. “For professionals it’s a very big thing.”



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