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Royal Ascot is Britain’s summer horse racing showpiece event; five days of top-class racing in mid-to-late June featuring the world’s best horses, trainers, jockeys and owners.  But what makes this festival so wonderful and unique?

History of Royal Ascot

While Ascot hosts many of Britain top races year-round, both flat and National Hunt, it’s Royal Ascot that has encapsulated the nation whether they love racing and having a bet, or are simply watching on because of the fashion!

As a meeting it dates back to 1911 when the third week of June became ‘Royal Week’.  Originally this was a smaller festival, albeit full of quality, but in more recent years it has really taken off.

Owing to recent upgrades in the past decade or so, Royal Ascot now features no less than 8 Group One races and has come to attract some of the best that France, USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia has to offer as well as showcasing the best of British and Irish equine talent.

The festival is now attended by over 300,000 people.

Royal Ascot Betting

This meeting hosts the crème de la crème.  Not only are notorious professional gamblers present, but many of the horses are owned by some very powerful connections with money to burn and confidence in their own animals while the huge crowds at the track and the millions watching on from elsewhere all contribute to a very vibrant betting week.

With large number of betting options available for major races, betting markets in their own right are fantastic to watch.  As much as £250,000 or more can be bet on a single horse by wealthy punters contributing to a betting turnover reaching the tens of millions of pounds for the week.

People even bet here on the colour of the Queen’s outfit or hat.  This year the bookmakers raked it in after Her Majesty wore blue two days in a row.  Only at Ascot!

Jockeys and Trainers

In recent times we’ve seen some amazing performances from horses such as Frankel, Lady Aurelia, Yeats, and Stradivarius but it’s the personalities of the people that have helped make this week what it is.

The top trainers at Royal Ascot have huge punter followings now with Sir Michael Stoute top of the list with 79 winners, followed by Aidan O’Brien who you’d back to overtake him at some point, at the moment on 65 while the masterful John Gosden has trained 47 thus far.

The most successful current Royal Ascot jockeys include William Buick on 23 and Ryan Moore on 53, but it’ll be no surprise to you to read that the number one jockey here is the inimitable Frankie Dettori who has lapped up the Royal Ascot winners enclosure applause fully 60 times.

Prize Money at Royal Ascot

Much like with the Breeders’ Cup in the States, prestige is not enough when it comes to attracting the best racing talent and the reputation of this meeting therefore has to be matched with big prize money.

As of 2019 the prize fund for the week had reached a staggering £7.3million, naturally making this the richest horse racing meeting in the country.

It goes without saying that the Group 1 races are the most valuable with the mile-and-a-quarter Prince of Wales’s Stakes worth £750,000.  £425,000 of that goes to the winner, while other races such as the Queen Anne Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee are worth £600,000 and there are four races worth a total of £500,000.

Highlights from Royal Ascot 2019

It may have been horrible, wet weather but racing wise Royal Ascot 2019 got off to a great start with a three-way finish in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, 14/1 shot Lord Glitters coming out on top with Beat The Bank in second place.

Day one also featured a mighty sprint battle between top speedsters Blue Point and Battaash, the former just coming out on top from the latter for the second year in the row in the King’s Stand Stakes.

The £750,000 Prince of Wales’s Stakes was run on Wednesday and featured a run of the utmost quality.  Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean won at odds of 3/1 under Frankie Dettori and in the process registered officially the best performance of the season but Thursday really was all about the indefatigable Italian jockey.

Day 4 saw bookies running for cover after Dettori won the first race on A’Ali, the second aboard Sangarius and the third on Star Catcher.  By the time he rode even-money favourite Stradivarius in the Ascot Gold Cup the layers were down millions, but Frankie hammered them again with a 1-length success.

Even more was to come for Dettori as he won one of two Group 1 races on Friday, the Commonwealth Cup on Advertise, before the meeting ended in great style on Saturday as Blue Point followed up his win on Tuesday with another Group 1 sprint success in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes before being retired.

What Makes Ascot Special?

Top hats and morning coats must be worn by gentlemen in the Royal Enclosure and the pomp and ceremony here is like nowhere else on earth.  Every day before the first race the Queen, along with other Royal Family members and special guests arrive by carriage and make their way up the home straight to the delight of the huge crowds.

The Royal meeting is simply different.  Despite the whining from purist horse racing fans, this week is about fashion and social elements every bit as much as it is about the racing and you can’t forget the hats!

The bottom line is that Royal Ascot is a jamboree.  It’s the social highlight of the year in Great Britain and it just happens to host some of the best horse racing you are likely to see anywhere in the world.

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