A short history of Royal Ascot
Ascot racecourse is a sporting venue with a rich heritage and history. Each year Ascot hosts 26 days of racing; 18 flat and eight jumps, with the flagship Royal meeting, known as “Royal Ascot”, taking place across four days. Whilst the racecourse has been in existence for 200 years, how much do you know about Royal Ascot? Founded by the Royalty and managed by an act of parliament, we’ve put together a brief history of this integral event of the summer social calendar.
Ascot racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, and has received patronage from all subsequent 11 monarchs. It is believed that whilst out riding Queen Anne came upon the open heath and proclaimed it was, “ideal for horses to gallop at full stretch”. The precise origins of the Royal meeting are unclear, as the event evolved from the first four-day meeting that took place in 1768. It officially became known as “Royal Ascot” in 1911.
The Queen is owner and breeder of many thoroughbred horses, along with other members of the Royal Family. In fact, the Queen’s own horses have won numerous races at Royal Ascot. The jockeys riding her Majesty’s steeds can be identified by the royal racing colours; purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves, and black velvet cap with gold fringe.
Whilst founded by the Queen and situated on Crown property, the administration of Ascot is handled on behalf of the crown by a representative appointed by the Monarch. Until 1901 the Master of the Royal Buckhounds managed the course on the Sovereign’s behalf. In 1901, Lord Churchill was appointed and became responsible for the running of the course. The Ascot Authority was established in 1913 by an Act of Parliament with His Majesty’s Representative becoming senior trustee.
Each day begins with the Royal processions. The Queen and accompanying members of the Royal Family arrive along the track in horse-drawn landau. Their day is then spent watching the races from the Royal enclosure. Even the name of the races have a royal theme, such as “King George V Stakes” and “Windsor Castle Stakes”.
The Gold Cup which has colloquially become known as “ladies day” remains the highlight and traditionally the busiest day of the week.
Royal Ascot 2018
Royal Ascot offers five days of world-class action from Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 June 2018.