Royal Ascot 2009: Racing Or Fashion?

Posted on: 11 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Royal Ascot is back with its horses, hats and Champers from 16-20 June.


Over 300,000 people are expected to descend upon Ascot next week when the world’s most famous race meeting returns for 2009.

The Royal Family will again be in attendance, arriving in a horse-drawn carriage each day to mark the start of Royal Ascot’s festival of horse racing running from the 16-20 June.

The Headliners

Tuesday, 16th June

2.30pm: The Queen Anne Stakes (£300,000)

3.05pm: The King’s Stand Stakes (£300,000)

3.45pm: The St Jame’s Palace Stakes (£300,000)

Wednesday, 17th June

3.45pm: The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (£450,000)

Thursday, 18th June

3.45pm: The Gold Cup (£300,000)

Friday, 19th June

3.45pm: The Coronation Stakes (£300,000)

Saturday, 20st June

3.45pm: The Golden Jubilee Stakes (£450,000)

The meeting is steeped in history, dating back to 1711 and today it’s one of the major events in the British social calendar, drawing the cream of society to the spectacle of top thoroughbred racing.

Enormous prize money is on offer and even greater stud potential in Europe’s best-attended race meeting – the pinnacle of the flat racing season.

Five days of the finest racing, fashion and glamour, Royal Ascot is the most prestigious week’s racing of the year with the Queen avidly watching her own thoroughbreds compete.

There are 17 Group races on offer to punters with at least one Group One event on each of the five days in racings equivalent to the World Cup.

Such is the attraction to seasoned followers, the betting ring often resembles a rugby scrum as hopefuls push and shove in an attempt to secure the best odds.

As well as the tradition, heritage and pageantry, the festival also sees top English aristocracy rubbing shoulders with Arabian Princes, the like of Sheik Mohammed and Khaled Abdulla, top jockeys and trainers as well as runners drawn from far and wide.

The usual Irish invasion will be coupled by representatives from France, Germany, Australia and now recently Japan.

But it’s not all about the £3m+ prize money on offer; many of the visitors are unaware of the fact racing is dubbed the “Sport of Kings” and are there purely for the social aspect.

Press coverage of attendees and what they are wearing can often exceed coverage of the racing itself.

The Royal Enclosure has a strict dress-code; males must wear full morning dress including top hat whilst ladies must not show bare midriffs, shoulders and must wear hats.

Outside the Royal Enclosure is less severe but many racegoers choose to wear formal dress anyway whilst sipping champagne in the summer sunshine.

The highlight is perhaps Thursday’s Ladies’ Day when the Gold Cup, a true test of stamina is run.

In 2007 the Gold Cup celebrated its 200th running and that race is the main event of Ladies’ Day when fashion and Ascot hats come out in force.

By Mark O'Haire

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