The British summer social scene and sports calendar wouldn’t be the same without Royal Ascot. Iconic, classic and exclusive, the horse racing festival par excellence raises the bar when it comes to special occasions, and its legendarily strict dress code is an excuse to dress up to the nines.
But what to wear? How big should the hat be? Which enclosure is best? Which day should you attend? And how much does it cost? The Resident has the answers to all your questions here…
WHEN IS IT?
Attracting the world’s finest racehorses and most talented jockeys, Royal Ascot offers five days of world-class sport from Tuesday 20 June to Saturday 24 June 2017. Beginning with the Queen Anne Stakes, named after Royal Ascot’s founder, the event has made legends of many of the finest thoroughbreds, and out of the meeting’s 18 Group races, eight are Group One – the most prestigious class of Flat race.
WhICH ENCLOSURE IS BEST?
The televised spectacle has been enjoyed across the world for generations, but nothing beats being there. The Royal Enclosure reflects the calibre and history of the Royal Meeting. Its origins can be traced as far back as 1807, when an area was reserved exclusively for family, guests and the Household of King George III. To this day entry to the Enclosure is by invitation only.
The Queen has not missed a single day of Royal Ascot since her Coronation and in 2013 her filly, Estimate, won the Gold Cup
The Queen Anne Enclosure offers a thrilling day at the heart of the action. Here the dress code is formal and seriously stylish. Get a close look at the runners and riders in the Pre-Parade and Parade Ring, and get front row as the Royal Procession, always at 2pm sharp, makes its daily route past the enclosures’ pristine lawns.
The Queen has not missed a single day of Royal Ascot since her Coronation and in 2013 her filly, Estimate, won the Gold Cup – the first time a horse owned by a reigning monarch had triumphed in the prestigious race.
In The Windsor Enclosure the tone is smart but a touch less formal. You won’t miss a moment of the day’s excitement. Caught up in the roar of every race’s climax, you’ll also be first to see the horses on their way down the home straight.
New for 2017 is The Village Enclosure. Designed to reflect the best of Royal Ascot while offering an exciting, contemporary twist, it is eclectic, refined and effortlessly cool. Open for three days only (Thursday to Saturday), The Village Enclosure has already sold out for Saturday June 24.
Positioned for the final furlong, with a spectacular backdrop of the packed Grandstand, racing is central to The Village Enclosure experience, but there is so much more enjoy here… It shares the smart-formal dress code and champagne sparkle of the Queen Anne Enclosure, but also features boutique restaurants alongside pop-up and alfresco dining choices offered by key names from London’s acclaimed street food scene.
As Ascot’s other visitors head home by 7pm, The Village Enclosure also hosts its own after party, until 9pm. Live music and DJs, set across three different stages, bring a festival spirit to the event as dusk falls.
Take a peek at the new Village Enclosure
WhICH DAY IS FOR YOU?
For serious racing fans, Tuesday and Wednesday boast the highest-quality action on the track, while discerning social racegoers often head to Royal Ascot earlier in the week, preferring the more relaxed pace to the bigger crowds later in the week.
What to wear?
Royal Ascot is also often looked to as being the highlight of the summer. Although the excitement of Ascot might not take place in London, many of the businesses in the area are involved in the action right from the get go.
Take Oliver Brown – the country’s oldest independent top hat specialist – which was appointed an Official Licensee to Royal Ascot this year. Proprietor Kristian Ferner Robson says: ‘It’s the biggest race meeting in the annual calendar and one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. The Royal Ascot racegoer is the epitome of the Oliver Brown customer so for us it is the perfect audience.
‘Inspiration for the collection is taken from the rich culture and heritage of the 306-year-old racecourse. I adore the traditions of the Royal Ascot dress code, which can be traced back to the early 19th century, and I wanted to design a timeless collection of classically cut morningwear pieces and accessories fit for the occasion.
‘I’ve been going to Royal Ascot for many years and I know what works. It’s been an incredibly exciting project and I believe we have created pieces that will be worn by gentlemen for years to come. The collection comprises an elegant contemporary Melusine fur felt Top Hat; wool and silk single and double-breasted waistcoats; classic Jermyn Street cut shirts; woven and boxcloth braces; silk ties; and the finest cotton and cashmere socks.
There’s also Huntsman on Savile Row, which has a natural affinity with Royal Ascot, given the meeting’s very British nature and its reputation as a showcase for heritage flair. Head cutters Campbell Carey and Dario Carnera advise that you always wear trousers that are worn with braces as there is nothing worse than the sight of a shirt peeking out from the bottom of your waistcoat.
‘White collar and cuffs should always be worn with morning dress,’ they say. ‘And lastly, it should always be Oxfords, not Brogues!’
WHAT ABOUT The hat?
Lisa Tan, a contemporary milliner based in London, is a seasoned Royal Ascot racegoer and part of the Official Royal Ascot Millinery Collective.
‘If you have your outfit but not your hat, I would strongly recommend shopping with your outfit in tow,’ says Lisa. ‘Ask if you can use a changing room and put everything on together to get a better idea of how it will look. Be open-minded when selecting a hat – sometimes the style that you don’t think will work can often be the perfect choice.
‘When choosing your hat, colour is the easiest starting point, but you don’t necessarily have to match your outfit colour to your hat. If you’re struggling, it can sometimes be easier to wear a clashing colour and then incorporate other accessories in similar colours into your outfit.
‘The style and design also needs to be taken into account when creating a balanced look – for instance, if you have a full hemline, I would avoid smaller headpieces and go for something with a wider brim and shallower crown.
‘How a hat looks on you can change dramatically with different hair, make-up and of course clothing. Don’t be afraid to wear more make-up than you usually would – wearing a hat can be quite a dramatic, almost-theatrical occasion.’
WHO TO BACK?
Well, the jockey in the Millennial Pink shirt, obviously… But if your more serious about the horses you’re backing study the form, watch the odds and listen to whatever Clare Balding has to say. Gary Nutting, writing for attheraces.com, has taken a look at the forecast and predicted that good or softer ground could see Endless Drama prosper in the Queen Anne Stakes. For more general tips, browse the ukracingguide.co.uk.
Tickets for Royal Ascot range from £37 to £88. Fine dining packages include champagne reception lunch, afternoon tea and car parking. Private Gazebos for groups of 15 are bookable from £1,000 plus ticket admission.
See ascot.co.uk or call 0844 346 3000