Royal Ascot Betting

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The top four questions asked of officials at the Royal Ascot have nothing whatsoever to do with horse racing. "Can I have a picnic?" "What time should I arrive?" "What`s the dress code for the Grandstand?" And of course, the one question on everyone`s mind, "Will the Queen be in attendance?"

Of course, it is still thoroughbred racing that makes this 300-year-old event possible. And it is not just one race that is held, but seven different Group 1 championships and 20 other races that are staged over a five-day period each June, culminating in the Royal Meeting. If nothing else, the Royal Ascot is a showcase of global equine talent, with runners arriving from such distant shores as the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Africa.

The history of the Royal Ascot dates back to 1711, when Queen Anne offered Her Majesty`s Plate, worth 100 guineas, to any horse, mare or gelding over the age of six, that could gallop the open heath near Windsor Castle the fastest. Seven English Hunters ran three heats of four miles each - a true test of stamina for both riders and their mounts.

Who won that day? No record exists. And perhaps that`s indicative of the focus of the Royal Ascot. It is about winning, of course, but it is even more about the experience, the event, and the sheer act of participating. It is also about tradition. The Queen Anne Stakes is still run as part of the Royal Ascot, commemorating the monarch who founded the course three centuries earlier.

In 1794, the Ascot Racecourse constructed its first building, with a capacity for 1,650 guests. The Gold Cup was introduced in 1807, and six years later, British Parliament declared the Ascot Heath as a permanent racecourse for the public. An administrator appointed by the crown became responsible for administering the races. In 1913, the Ascot Authority was established, with His Majesty`s Representative as Chairman and the Clerk of the Course as Secretary.

As the Ascot Racecourse prepared for the 21st century, it became clear that some changes were needed, from renovation of the track to a new way of doing business. In 2002, a public company, Ascot Racecourse Ltd., was formed to look after the course. A major redevelopment was undertaken in 2004, resulting in a spectacular new sporting complex. The new grandstand was inaugurated in 2006 with a speech from Her Majesty The Queen, who has taken a keen interest in the races as an owner and breeder of racehorses.

The Royal Ascot evolved over the years into a four-day event, with Gold Cup Day as its main feature on Day Three. It is colloquially known as "Ladies` Day". The Queen traditionally presents the Gold Cup, along with the Royal Hunt Cup and The Queen`s Vase. Other "Challenge Trophies", some of which are antiques, are awarded to the winners of the remaining races.

The running of the Royal Ascot takes place amid a torrent of social events. Fining dining is of major interest at more than a dozen exquisite restaurants trackside and near the Parade Ring. The Royal Ascot Fashion Show, attended by internationally renowned designers, has become a highlight of the Royal Meeting since its launch in 2007. And the After Racing Party at Boujis on Friday and Saturday features top DJs from London nightspots to rock the event to a close.

Yes, picnicking is permitted, although it is advisable to purchase the "Champneys picnic in a box" in advance for consumption on the Greenyard Lawns. Getting to the Royal Ascot early is a must, as the roads get congested about 11am; car parks open at 9am and the Racecourse at 10:30am each day. And the dress code in the Grandstands is in a manner appropriate to a smart occasion. Hats are quite common, although not compulsory. Grandstand Admission requires gentlemen to wear a shirt and tie, preferably with jacket. Sports attire, jeans and shorts are forbidden.

As for the Queen, she typically attends each and every day. The Royal Procession takes place at 2pm, just before the racing begins.

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