Put simply, Ascot Racecourse is the most famous racecourse anywhere in the world.
It sits within the royal county of Berkshire, hosts both flat and jumps racing and delves out tens of millions of pounds in prize money every year. Further, it remains synonymous with the Royal meeting and probably always will be.
Royal Ascot runs for five days in mid to late June every year featuring 30 races, an incredible eight of which are run at Group 1 level. The meeting is televised to millions of people with many non-racing fans tuning in simply to look at the fashion or get a glimpse of the Queen.
As well as the Royal meeting, Ascot plays host to the main midsummer showpiece race in Britain, the King George. It is also now the home of Champions Day in October, which was previously staged at Newmarket. Finally, it also puts on three top-level jumps races during its important National Hunt season.
Ascot Racecourse Ticket Prices
These vary at Ascot naturally, with a typical competitive jumps meeting priced up at between £20 and £41 not including hospitality. For a low-key flat meeting, if there is such a thing at Ascot, you can get in for around £12 – £26 while at Royal Ascot Tuesday is £26 – £72 and Saturday is £57 – £85 for example.
A word to the wise; Tuesday at the Royal meeting actually features more Group 1 races than any other day, so if it’s quality action you’re after this is the day to go.
A major overhaul was needed of the Ascot courses and this duly arrived in 2006. The idea was to improve drainage and that has meant that we don’t see the very testing ground we used to for the course’s jumps fixtures, however, there has been criticism of the flat meetings.
Having been moved here from Newmarket, Champions Day at the end of October has twice been in danger of cancellation due to very heavy ground which has led to calls for it to be returned to HQ where the drainage is better and the grass coverage fairer.
Races on the straight course here can be run from five furlongs up to a mile, all the while the runners will be up and down on the undulations before facing a stiff uphill finish. The wider track is essentially triangular, a mile-and-three-quarters round, right-handed and galloping in nature.
Front-runners have done well here but when they go too hard at this track, they will invariably be caught out going up the hill towards the line.
Only on the fixture list since 1966, the National Hunt course at Ascot is a right-handed, galloping track around 1m5f in distance.
Fences on the chase course are known to be stiff but it also appears to favour runners ridden positively, with not as many as normal coming from behind to mount challenges so a positive jockey with a good, confident jumper is what is needed.
Ascot’s Biggest Races
Given its terrific importance in flat racing alongside Newmarket and the fact that it is among the leading support tracks to Cheltenham over the jumps, Ascot’s big races seem to know no end. Here are the highlights of the highlights:
- Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1, 1m
- St James’s Palace Stakes – Group 1, 3yo Colts, 1m
- Prince of Wales’s Stakes – Group 1, 1m2f
- Gold Cup – Group 1, 2m4f
- Commonwealth Cup – Group 1, 6f, 3yo
- Coronation Stakes – Group 1, 1m, 3yo Fillies
- Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Group 1, 6f
- Coventry Stakes – Group 2, 6f, 2yo Colts
- Royal Hunt Cup – Handicap, 1m
- Wokingham Stakes – Handicap, 6f
- British Champions Sprint Stakes – Group 1, 6f
- British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes – Group 1, 1m4f
- Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – Group 1, 1m
- Champion Stakes – Group 1, 1m2f
- British Champions Long Distance Cup – Group 2, 2m
Other Flat Races
- King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes – Group 1, 1m4f, July
- Summer Mile Stakes – Group 2, 1m, July
National Hunt Races
- Clarence House Chase – Grade 1 Chase, 2m1f, January
- Ascot Chase – Grade 1 Chase, 2m5f, February
- Long Walk Hurdle – Grade 1 Hurdle, 3m1f, December
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