For many, Royal Ascot week is the highlight of the flat racing season, with five days of top quality contests, pristine fashion and unbeatable atmosphere.
Our guide is designed to provide you with all you need to know about the fabulous five days in June, how to get there, what to wear and what to expect.
When is Royal Ascot 2020?
The 2020 renewal of Royal Ascot takes place from Tuesday 16th June until Saturday 20th June. Each day will play host to six races with the first race of each day due off at 2:30pm.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Royal Ascot 2020 will take place behind closed doors. So while there will hopefully still be some top class races for fans to enjoy, it will have to be from the comfort of their own home.
How to Get there?
Sadly racegoers will not be able to attend Royal Ascot in 2020, however if you choose to visit the course later in the year Ascot is accessible in a variety of ways, such as by car, public transport, and if you’re really lucky, helicopter.
Ascot by car: The Berkshire racecourse is located within easy access of both the M3 and M4 motorways, with both less than 20 minutes away. The racecourse boasts numerous car parks for patrons during all meetings, however these can be booked up fast, and of-course parking can be tricky to find. For anyone driving to the event, pre-booking is recommended.
Ascot by train: Located less than 10 minutes walk from the racecourse, Ascot train station is serviced by the Reading to London Waterloo line, and Guildford to Ascot local services. Travel time from London is just under an hour, while those catching a train from Reading can expect the journey to take around 25 minutes.
Royal Ascot by bus: While a number of bus routes serve Ascot, during the Royal meeting, access to the main high street can be restricted. For that reason, it is likely that many buses will require a short walk to the racecourse.
Royal Ascot by air: For those feeling more extravagant, Ascot Racecourse has the facilities for helicopters to land within the racecourse. Again, slots will fill up fast, so if you’re intending to arrive at the races in style, securing your slot early is advised.
What to Wear
Taking precedence over the actual racing for some, Royal Ascot’s approach to fashion is ‘dress to be seen’. Racegoers will often don their finery and elaborately designed hat and headpieces, most likely to have been planned months in advance.
The Royal Enclosure enforces the strictest dress code with men required to wear top hats and morning suits, while the Village Enclosure is the most relaxed.
One thing to note though for many younger race-goears, socks are required for all dress codes, so resist the urge to go sockless, at risk of being refused entry!
The full style guide and dress code can be found on the Royal Ascot racecouse website.
The fashion may be a major part of Royal Ascot, but what we’re all attending for is some top class flat racing.
Throughout the five days, racegoers are treated to eight Group 1 contests, multiple Grade 2 and Grade 3 events, as well as some fiendishly competitive handicaps.
Day one kicks things off with a trio of Group 1s, the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile, the fastest race of the week, the Kings Stand and the St James’s Palace Stakes with many of the season’s Guineas horses in action.
Wednesday’s highlight is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over 1m2f for older horses, before the highlight of the week takes centre stage on Thursday.
Ladies Day is host to the Gold Cup, won for the last two years by star stayer Stradivarius, who could be back to complete a hat-trick this season.
The penultimate day of Royal Ascot features a pair of Group 1s for the best of the best. The 6f Commonwealth Cup is the newest edition to the card, with a three-year-old sprint proving a success since it was added. That is followed by the fillies-only Coronation Stakes over a mile.
Rounding off Royal Ascot week on Saturday, the social highlight of the five days, is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The sprinters are back again, this time to find out who the 6f king or queen is. Often you will see horses attempt the King’s Stand/Diamond Jubilee double, achieved last year by Blue Point.
Around the Course
Before, during and after racing there is plenty to keep racegoers busy during Royal Ascot.
Pre-racing there’s lots to see and do, regardless of the enclosure racegoers opt for. From enjoying lunch at one of Ascot’s restaurants, to enjoying a drink with friends, to bagging that prime spot for the Royal Procession, there is plenty to do.
Throughout the day, racegoers can enjoy a plethora of food and drink options, get a close-up view of the runners before every race and explore what the racecourse has to offer.
When the racing is done, the party is not. The traditional singing around the bandstand is a Royal Ascot tradition, with the festivities getting underway from 5pm.
For something a bit more lively, the bars stay open and the live music continues to 8pm or 9pm (depending on day and enclosure) every night.
However you choose to spend your Royal Ascot, the experience is hard to beat for many racing fans.