Not only is Royal Ascot a highlight of the flat racing calendar, it is also a unique social event with traditions dating back hundreds of years. Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, the first race was run along an open area in what is now known as Ascot. To this day, that first meeting is commemorated by the annual running of the Queen Anne Stakes during Royal Ascot.
Nowadays, the event still enjoys royal attendance, with the Queen herself often presenting trophies to race winners. Before the races begin, a procession of royal carriages will typically carry the royal attendees straight down the home straight in full view of the crowd, and into the Royal Enclosure. The Queen, as a breeder and owner of racehorses, will often have participants in the races, whose jockeys will wear the royal silks during the race.
Royal Ascot is a favourite occasion for both hardened race-goers and casual racing fans alike. The pomp and ceremony involved in dressing up in dresses, hats, and top hat and tails is always a favourite for the fans in attendance, especially on ladies’ day when all sort of colourful combinations are on show.
Royal Ascot also boasts some of the top racing of the entire flat racing season, with punters being able to bet on a Group One race every single day of the festival. Due to the calibre of horses and prize money involved, elite racehorses from across the globe travel to Royal Ascot each year. The most popular races include the St James’ Palace Stakes, the Coronation Stakes, and the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes. However, undoubtedly the most popular race of the festival is the Ascot Gold Cup.
Ascot Gold Cup
First run in 1807, the Ascot Gold Cup is raced over 2 miles 4 furlongs and, due to its length, is an event for the very best ‘staying’ horses. The 2013 winner, Estimate, was owned by Queen Elizabeth II, and was the first time the Gold Cup winner was owned by the current reigning monarch.
The 2014 Gold Cup promises to be an entertaining race. Leading Light currently holds favouritism at 4/1. Last year’s winner and royal owned Estimate is currently second favourite with odds of 5/1, and would be an extremely popular winner with the crowd. These two lead the market comfortably, and the roar if they were neck and neck coming down the home straight would be fitting. There is no doubt, however, that the crowd would love to see another royal winner.