Originally founded by Queen Anne in 1711, Royal Ascot is attended by the British Royal Family each year and is considered to be one of the highlights of the summer. Each June, approximately 300,000 people from all over the world travel to attend the weeklong racing festival known as Royal Ascot, held at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England.
Ascot Racecourse hosts a variety of other race meets throughout the year, with Royal Ascot being the most discerning in regard to the quality of horses and, of course, fashion. This year’s edition will see five days of racing from June 19-23, with six races run each day, and includes over £7.3 million (about $9.7 million) in purse money spread out over eighteen different graded races, eight of which are Group 1.
The racecourse gates open each day at 10:30am (8:30am ET) to allow patrons to enjoy a picnic on the lawn or a meal at any one of the racecourse’s fine dining restaurants. At 2pm, the royal procession begins and anyone who is trackside will have a direct view of members of the Royal Family, who are in attendance that day, and the races begin at 2:30pm and conclude around 5:30pm.
The highlights of the five days of racing include:
Tuesday, June 19th– Queen Anne Stakes (named for Royal Ascot’s founder), the Kings Stand Stakes and the Saint James Palace Stakes; this day of racing is most notable for sprinters.
Wednesday, June 20th– The Prince of Wales Stakes; this is typically a more laid back day of racing.
Thursday, June 21st– The Gold Cup, the oldest race of the meet; this day is considered to be the meet’s “Ladies Day,” as fashion takes center stage.
Friday, June 22nd– The Coronation Stakes, the leading race for three-year-old fillies, and the Commonwealth Cup.
Saturday, June 23rd– the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the Wokingham Stakes and the Queen Alexandra Stakes conclude the meet’s festivities.
Outside of hosting several of the most notable races in the world, Royal Ascot is perhaps most famous for its longstanding dress code (300+ years). While the dress code varies between seating locations, some general guidelines can be found below:
Ladies– No dresses above the knee, shoulder straps on dresses must be more than once inch in width, and hats or within-regulation fascinators are to be worn at all times.
Men– No bow ties, no colored morning coats in the Royal enclosure, but suits may be colored in other areas. And new for 2018 — socks are now a requirement.
This year’s edition of Royal Ascot will see some familiar faces from the United States, including Tim Glyshaw, Wesley Ward, Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott. From the American side, perhaps the most anticipated race of the meet will be the Kings Stand Stakes on opening day, a race that will feature a two-time winner at Royal Ascot, Lady Aurelia, facing Europe’s top sprinter in Battaash. The odds are on Ward’s side, as ten of the past fifteen editions of the Kings Stand Stakes have been won by foreign invaders.
Horse Racing 101 founder and south Alabama-native Caroline Sumner grew up riding horses in a variety of English sports such as eventing and hunter/jumper. Her first experience at a racetrack was in 2004 when she and her mother visited Keeneland Racecourse and various breeding farms in Lexington, Kentucky. While she loved the horses, her real passion for the racing industry came a few years later when she met her now-deceased off-track thoroughbred, Kaotic’s Reality.
She graduated from Midway College in December of 2012 with a degree in Equine Studies. Throughout college, she worked on a commercial breeding farm and on the racetrack in various positions that included barn foreman, hot walker, and groom. A career-ending shoulder injury forced her to choose other methods of remaining involved with the horse racing industry, but she remains an avid supporter of thoroughbreds both on the racetrack and in their second careers.
Caroline currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where she operates 101horseracing.com full-time in addition to two other projects. Her other interests include bodybuilding, cooking, reading, and traveling.