Ascot Racecourse
For the private housing development named Royal Ascot in Hong Kong, see Royal Ascot, Hong Kong. Ascot Racecourse is a famous English racecourse, located in the small town of Ascot, Berkshire, used for thoroughbred horse racing. It is one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom, hosting 9 of the UK's 32 annual Group 1 races, the same number as Newmarket. The course is closely associated with the British Royal Family, being approximately six miles from Windsor Castle, and owned by the Crown Estate. Ascot today stages twenty-five days of racing over the course of the year, comprising sixteen Flat meetings held in the months of May and October. The Royal Meeting, held in June, remains a major draw, the highlight being the Ascot Gold Cup. The most prestigious race is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes run over the course in July.

History
Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. The first race, "Her Majesty's Plate", with a purse of 100 guineas, was held on 11 August 1711. Seven horses competed, each carrying a weight of 12 stones (76 kg). This first race comprised three separate four-mile (6437 m) heats. In 1813, Parliament passed an act to ensure that the grounds would remain a public racecourse. In 1913, Parliament passed an act creating the Ascot Authority, an entity that manages the racecourse to this day. From its creation until 1945, the only racing that took place at Ascot was the Royal Meeting, a four-day event. Since that date, more fixtures have been introduced to the grounds, notably the Steeplechase and hurdles in 1965. Ascot racecourse closed for a period of twenty months on 26 September 2004, for a £185 million redevelopment funded by Allied Irish Bank and designed by Populous and Buro Happold. As owner of the Ascot estate, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth reopened the racecourse on Tuesday 20 June 2006. However upon re-opening, the new grandstand has attracted widespread criticism for failing to provide sufficient raised viewing for patrons to watch the racing, and devoting too much space to money-spinning restaurants and corporate hospitality facilities. At the end of 2006 a £10 million programme of further alterations was announced to improve the viewing from lower levels of the grandstand using an innovative steel composite product ("SPS" Sandwich plate system) to reprofile the existing concrete terraces. However, the upper levels provide far less accommodation for the everyday racegoer than was present in the former stand. In March 2009 it was confirmed that the main sponsors of Ascot, William Hill would be ceasing their sponsorship deal, citing that the decision by the BBC to reduce live race coverage as the main reason in its decision making process. In July 2009, Ascot Racecourse also hosted the third round of the UAE President's Cup.

Royal Ascot
The centrepiece of Ascot’s year, Royal Ascot is one of Europe's most famous race meetings, and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. Every year Royal Ascot is attended by HM Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family such as The Prince of Wales, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the Queens royal Standard. It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. There are 3 enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week The Royal Enclosure - is the most prestigious of the 3 enclosures with recent visits from the Queen and Royal Family members. Access to the royal enclosure is restricted with High security on the day. First time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure office and gain membership from someone who has attended the enclosure for at least 4 years. For existing badgeholders, an invitation is sent out by Her Majesty's Representative to request badges. The badgeholders name is written onto the badge and can only be used by that person; the colours of the badges vary each day for one day applicants. Those in the Royal Enclosure have the options of fine dining and hospitality and a selection of bars. The Dress is strictly enforced, for Ladies only a day dress with a hat or fascinator is acceptable with rules applying to the length of the dress and ladies must not show bare midriffs or shoulders. For gentlemen a black or grey morning dress with top hat. Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting. This leads to a split among racing fans, some of whom are glad to see racing in the spotlight, and getting more attention, while others do not like the meeting despite the quality of racing. There are 16 Group races on offer, with at least one Group One event on each of the five days. The Ascot Gold Cup is on Ladies' Day on the Thursday. There is over £3,000,000 of prize money on offer.

Key races

Royal Ascot 2011
Day 1 - Tuesday 14th June
  • Queen Anne Stakes - Group 1
  • King's Stand Stakes - Group 1
  • St. James's Palace Stakes - Group 1
  • Coventry Stakes - Group 2
  • Ascot Stakes - Class 2 handicap
  • Windsor Castle Stakes - Listed
Day 2 - Wednesday 15th June
  • Jersey Stakes - Group 3
  • Windsor Forest Stakes - Group 2
  • Prince of Wales's Stakes - Group 1
  • Royal Hunt Cup - Class 2 Heritage Handicap
  • Queen Mary Stakes - Group 2
  • Sandringham Handicap - Listed
Day 3 - Thursday 16th June
  • Norfolk Stakes - Group 2
  • Ribblesdale Stakes - Group 2
  • Ascot Gold Cup - Group 1
  • Britannia Stakes - Class 2 Heritage Handicap
  • Tercentenary Stakes - Group 3
  • King George V Stakes - Class 2 handicap
Day 4 - Friday 17th June
  • Albany Stakes - Group 3
  • King Edward VII Stakes - Group 2
  • Coronation Stakes - Group 1
  • Wolferton Handicap - Listed
  • Queen's Vase - Group 3
  • Buckingham Palace Handicap - Class 2 handicap


Day 5 - Saturday 18th June
  • Chesham Stakes - Listed
  • Hardwicke Stakes- Group 2
  • Golden Jubilee Stakes - Group 1
  • Wokingham Stakes - Class 2 heritage handicap
  • Duke of Edinburgh Handicap - Class 2 handicap
  • Queen Alexandra Stakes - Class 2 conditions race


Other flat races
  • Sagaro Stakes
  • Summer Mile Stakes
  • Princess Margaret Stakes
  • King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes - Group 1
  • Royal Lodge Stakes
  • Fillies' Mile - Group 1
  • Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - Group 1
  • Cumberland Lodge Stakes
  • Diadem Stakes
  • Bengough Memorial Stakes
  • Cornwallis Stakes
  • Autumn Stakes
  • UAE President's Cup
National Hunt races:
  • Long Walk Hurdle
  • Victor Chandler Chase
  • Ascot Chase
  • Reynoldstown Novices' Chase


Trivia
The racecourse is supposedly the setting for a scene in the musical My Fair Lady and the subject for the song "Ascot Gavotte". Embarassingly the horses race the wrong way. The racecourse was used as a filming location in the James Bond film A View to a Kill in 1985, where Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) was beginning his mission to defeat the villainous Max Zorin ( Christopher Walken), whose horses were competing in a race there.

Building Activity

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    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com