The Royal Ascot is the centrepiece of Ascot’s year 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 Familysuch 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 Queen’s 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 three enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week.
The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three 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 four years. For existing badgeholders, an invitation is sent out by Her Majesty’s Representative to request badges. The badgeholder’s name is written onto the badge and can be used only 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 code is strictly enforced. For women, only a day dress with a hat is acceptable, with rules applying to the length and style of the dress. In addition, women must not show bare midriffs or shoulders. For men, black or grey morning dress with top hat is required.
Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting. There are sixteen group races on offer, with at least one Group One event on each of the five days. The Gold Cup is on Ladies’ Day on the Thursday.
Royal Ascot for the first time in 2013 featured prize-money of £5,000,000. A total increase in the prize-money purse of £500,000 for the meeting represented an 11% increase from 2012. Total prize money at Ascot throughout the 2013 season was just above £10,000,000. This amount excludes the £3.4M on offer during the Qipco British Champions Day, an industry joint venture.
Prize money for The St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes was increased by £100,000 to £350,000, which put each race on equal footing with the Queen Anne Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes and Gold Cup