Friday, 26 February 2010

What’s On: Ascot Countryside Raceday, Sunday 18th April 2010

As well as the superb Jumps racing, including the Independent Newspapers Veterans Handicap Chase, here's a look at what will be happaning on Countryside Raceday at Ascot Racecourse on Sunday 18th April:

The Family Farm
Come and see all the fun of the farm. We have loads of furry friends all looking forward to seeing you. Visit Goat Mountain where you will be able to feed the greedy goats snacks. You will also be able to get up close and personal with guinea pigs, lamb and chicks.

Ferreting Fun
Watch the ferrets scamper down coloured tubes with the winners richly rewarded with a tasty treat. These animals have a life of their own, so the races never turn out quite as you’d expect. Don’t get too close as you may find a ferret running up your leg!

Terrier Tomfoolery
Be prepared for fast and furious fun with these fantastic little terrors. Pick your favourite and cheer them home. For entertainment value alone, the unpredictable antics of these lovable dogs is well worth watching.

Totally Quackers
Watch the highly entertaining Quack Pack in action on the Grandstand Lawn. Kids are invited into the arena to help the ducks waddle around their obstacle course.

Watch Out - Low Flying Falcons About
The Hawkeye team, based on the borders of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire are here with their amazing birds of prey to provide you with exciting and dynamic flying demonstrations. Watch the masters of the sky sour overhead in this most magical of demonstrations.

The Mini Beast Safari
For everything slimy, slippery, creepy and crawly head to the concourse of the Grandstand where you will be able to see all sorts of snakes, spiders and multi legged critters.

Let Us Show You Around
Colts and Fillies members are invited to join the tour is Ascot Racecourse. From Sovereign’s Gate on the road side of the Parade Ring at 11.30am. The tour is aimed at younger racegoer and gives an insight into racing at Ascot. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please note that the tour is limited to the first 25 people and operates on a first come, first served basis.

The Charitable Pig Company
Pugs are special; intelligent, affectionate, inquisitive and playful. Pete Adams, founder of The Charitable Pig Company will be showcasing his rare breeds.

But that’s not all. There will also be Laser Shooting, a Parade of Hounds along the race tracks, the Kintbury Gun Dogs and Mask Making in the Pavilion.

Shop to Your Heart’s Content
We have a wide variety of shopping opportunities spread all over the Racecourse:

  • Boo: Clothing with a sense of fun, colour and sensuality
  • Claremont Clothing: Pashminas, belts and accessories
  • Conversation Pieces: Pictures and prints
  • Dubarry of Ireland: Classic leather bootmaker
  • Estribos Argentina: Weather proof hats and leather goods
  • Fowler Brothers: Casual country clothing
  • Fur, Feather & Fin: Shooting accessories and ladies clothing
  • Joules: Simple, comfortable, timeless clothing
  • Judy Thompson: Classic, stylish shoes
  • Keith Fleetwood: Walking Sticks
  • Liz Armstrong: Liz’s own artwork
  • Mary Kelly: Bold clothing for the, stylish woman
  • Mr. Atkinson: Magic and jokes galore
  • Peruvian Treasures: Jewellery for the land of the Incas
  • The Playhouse Co.: Tree and playhouses
  • Tom Hil Sculptures: Intriguing sculptures made from horseshoes

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Origin of Horse Racing Phrases


Many terms and phrases in the English language harken back to a time not so long ago when horses were of extreme importance. Phrases like stubborn as a mule, beating a dead horse, horseplay, horsing around and horse laugh are self- evident and require no explanation. Other phrases have origins obscured in the past. Some, like the humorous reference to an automobile as a horseless carriage, have survived longer than many would have anticipated. Although we rarely stop to look at their literal meanings, many of these linguistic phrases embody useful information about equine behavior or the care and treatment of horses. Everyone is acquainted with the sayings You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, which was cited as a proverb as early as 1546, and That’s a horse of a different color, which probably originated in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in 1601.
The familiar old phrase Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth refers to the practice of horse traders determining the age of a horse by its anterior teeth, or incisors. The incisors erupt and wear down according to a fairly consistent schedule through the life of the horse. As the incisors wear down, the chewing surface changes in appearance, exposing more and more of the infundibulum, a natural concavity in the anterior teeth. By looking at the lower incisors to see which permanent teeth have erupted and considering their stage of wear, knowledgeable horse traders can estimate the age of the horse. Since older horses are less useful for heavy work, determining the age helps to evaluate a horse’s worth. Hence, looking a gift horse in the mouth is the equivalent of asking someone how much they paid for a gift they have just given you and then complaining that it was not expensive enough. Getting information straight from the horse’s mouth is also probably derived from the fact that a smart horse trader would look into a horse’s mouth for himself to determine its age, rather than trusting the word of the seller.
Eating like a horse originates from the fact that horses spend much of their time consuming large quantities of food. The equine digestive system is unusual. Other grazers, like cattle, sheep and goats have four-chambered stomachs and rather slow digestive systems. The horse, on the other hand, has just one chamber in its stomach, and most of the fermentation occurs farther on in the cecum. In proportion to the total body weight, the horse’s digestive system is only about one third the size of that of a cow. This fact means that food passes through a horse much faster than it does through a cow or other ruminant, so the horse requires more food in order to obtain sufficient nutrients.
Good old horse sense most likely refers to the accumulation of knowledge about horses acquired by humans, not to the intelligence of horses. In order to buy, care for, train, handle, breed and work with horses, one must know a great deal about them. The appreciation of such knowledge about horses was evident even by the fourth century B.C., when the Greek writer Xenophon wrote his treatise The Art of Horsemanship, which covered such topics as how to avoid being cheated when buying a horse, and how to train, groom, mount, ride and stable a horse.
Horse sense probably does not refer to the intelligence of horses since they are, unfortunately, limited in this regard. Relative to their body size, horses have very small brains. Their behavior is linked primarily to instincts rather than to innate intelligence. Their strongest qualities relate to their instincts to flee from dangerous predators, to eat and drink regularly, to seek security in numbers, and to mate successfully. The training of horses relies, therefore, on repetition and the development of conditioned reflexes through reward or punishment. The most successful training takes into account the natural instincts of the horse and capitalizes on them. Thus, for example, young horses are enticed to jump over fences by having adult horses jumping ahead. The foal will concentrate on staying with the group and will leap over obstacles that it would otherwise avoid.
Horses are known for two things when it comes to locomotion: power and speed. Horsepower is a unit of power needed to lift 165 pounds 27 inches high in one second. The average horse is actually 10 to 13 times stronger than that, meaning that one horse normally is capable of producing 10 to 13 units of horsepower.
The phrase putting the cart before the horse is probably ancient, because it first appeared in print in 1520 in Robert Whitinton’s Vulgaria. Horses have been used to pull a number of vehicles, including carts, wagons, carriages, chariots and sleighs, hence the phrase to work like a horse. Before horses could be used to pull heavy loads, special yokes had to be designed, because the typical ox yoke would have applied too much pressure to the windpipe of a horse, cutting off its supply of oxygen.
Many phrases are linked to riding skills, dressage and racing. During the Age of Chivalry, a knight was considered chivalrous if he was adept at riding a horse in full armor, which is not easy when the armor and rider together weighed around 440 pounds. Telling someone to get off his high horse probably originated from the fact that knights had to ride specially bred large horses because of the enormous weight of their armor. Nobles would ride through town quite literally looking down on others from their tall horses. Later on, politicians paraded in ceremonial processions on unusually large horses. A Scottish proverb incorporating a reference to one’s “high horse” was cited by James Kelly in 1721. Come off it is also derived from this saying.
Chivalry is from the French word for horse, cheval. Because of the code of gallantry, which knights were required to know well, chivalry eventually came to be associated with the ideal behavior for noblemen. Cavalier, which now means to behave aristocratically or in a dismissive manner, is the term one assigned to gentlemen who rode for the military.
Putting on airs may come from a term used in dressage to indicate a movement in which the horse’s legs are off the ground. The various “airs” above ground are performed chiefly by horses trained in the hautes écoles (high schools), like the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. To put on airs, then, would be to show off a talent that is shared only with the most elite.
Tilting at windmills, which refers to attempting the ludicrous or impossible, is based on an episode in Cervantes’ 17th- century classic Don Quixote, in which the hero believes the windmills are monsters that he intends to take on in mortal combat. Tilting is the competition in medieval jousting tournaments in which one contestant tries to knock the other off his horse. Shakespeare was one of the first to write about charging ahead at full tilt, a phrase that came to refer to proceeding with determination as quickly as possible in a particular endeavor.
Horse racing is a fruitful source of clichés. Starting from scratch first implied that someone was being honest in a horse race by making sure that his horse’s front feet were just behind a line drawn in the dirt road that marked where the race was to commence. Although the phrase up to scratch was first published in reference to boxing 160 years ago, it may have been used earlier in horse races. A dark horse candidate is one about whom little is known. The term comes from cases in which the public is either intentionally or accidentally kept in the dark regarding certain facts about a horse that may possess the necessary qualities to win the race. A horse’s lack of a reputation puts those betting on it at an advantage. In 1831 Benjamin Disraeli wrote in The Young Duke, “A dark horse, which had never been thought of . . . rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph.” Disraeli himself was quite a dark horse in British politics.
They’re off and running, uttered by many racetrack announcers, has come to refer to any situation in which the participants have made a strong beginning, especially in politics. Beating a dead horse was first applied to politics when Richard Cobden, a member of Parliament, was accused of this deed in 1887 when he kept pressing to reduce the budget. Giving someone a leg up literally refers to helping him or her onto a horse or a wall, whereas going on a wild goose chase refers to an equestrian sport started in Ireland.
Some equine words and phrases are taken from horse tackle rather than from the horse itself. The origin of the phrase bits and pieces may have come from parts of a bridle. The bit fits into the mouth of the horse and rests on the gum between the incisors and the cheek teeth. It assists in controlling the pace and direction of the horse, as well as the position in which the animal holds its head. The cheekpieces are the parts of the bridle that connect the bit and the headstall. Bits and pieces were collected and piled together in a barn or stable, hence the use of bits and pieces as a collective term for many small and varied objects.
Someone who is frustrated by restraint or delay is said to be champing at the bit. This phrase comes from the nervous behavior of a horse in response to the restraint of wearing a metal bit in its mouth, which the horse chews or gnashes on, particularly if it is uncomfortable. Champing also refers to a behavior seen in wild horses in which the animal opens and closes its mouth rapidly, with lips drawn back at the corners and held away from the teeth. This behavior conveys submission to another horse in recognition of the second horse’s superior social ranking.
Going ahead hell for leather originally meant that a person who was riding as fast and hard as possible would put a lot of wear and tear on his leather saddle, bridle and stirrups. Rudyard Kipling may have been the first to coin the phrase in 1899 when he wrote “The Story of Gadsbys.” Riding roughshod over someone is to disregard the person’s physical and mental welfare. A horse is roughshod when the nails are left protruding out of its shoes so that the animal does not slip and fall. Being ridden over by a roughshod horse would be agonizing. In 1790 Robert Burns wrote about “a rough-shod troop o’Hell,” and Thomas Moore used the term in its modern metaphorical sense in his 1813 Intercepted Letters when he wrote, “‘Tis a scheme of the Romanists, so help me God! To ride over Your Most Royal Highness roughshod.”
One surprising word with equine origins is crinoline, which commonly refers to a full petticoat or a stiff type of cotton cloth used for interlinings. Crinoline originally referred to a loose-weave horsehair cloth used as a stiff lining for hats and lapels and as fabric for petticoats that helped skirts to stand out and look full. The word is derived from the Latin words crinis, meaning “hair,” and linum, meaning “thread.”
Our daily use of horse terms and phrases does not stop there. Little girls wear ponytails, and you must pony up when it is time to settle your account. While the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be and nightmares may not conjure up positive connotations for female horses, a man who is referred to as a stallion certainly has a reputation to live up to. Backing the wrong horse, either literally or figuratively, is as disadvantageous as is changing horses in midstream.
The persistence of these familiar words and phrases reveals how thoroughly horses have influenced the way we think.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Brits are coming to the Royal Ascot Fashion Show

Introducing the ultimate showcase for the hottest couture from the world’s catwalks, the Royal Ascot Fashion Show returns to the Bessborough Restaurant for the five days of Royal Ascot (Tuesday 15th June – Saturday 19th June).

The catwalk front-liners for this year are the Grand Dame of British fashion and three times British Designer of the Year, Vivienne Westwood, maestro of milliners Stephen Jones, fashions finest Amanda Wakeley who recently received an OBE for her services to the fashion industry, entourage to the stars - Matthew Williamson and the holder of three Royal Warrants Gieves & Hawkes.

This exclusive fashion show gives guests a unique insight into the world of fashion where these top British designers will showcase a variety of their collection usually only seen on the international catwalks.

Vivienne Westwood shows off a more edgy look with signature pieces from her Spring/Summer Gold Label 2010 and archive collection.

Stephen Jones entertains racegeors with a fresh approach with hats from his ABC Spring/Summer 2010 ready to wear and bespoke range. A is for Art, the art of Japan. B is for Beauty, the beauty of France. C is for Commerce, the commerce of America.

Amanda Wakeley showcases outfits from her Spring/Summer 2010 range. Designing the range herself since claiming back her business last year, racegoers will be treated to Grecian draped gowns and togas in egg yolk yellow, grey and peach, unstructured draped blazers, voluminous harem trousers, barely-there swimsuits twisting and turning around the body in raspberry and burnt umber, tulip-shaped skirts and gold sequin mini dresses.

Matthew Williamson uses the Fashion Show catwalk to unveil his Spring/Summer 2010 collection of shift dresses in fine metallic tweeds encrusted with geometric jewels, the exaggerated shoulders adding to the fierce Williamson attitude. A child of the Eighties, the designer has a way of taking some of that decade’s most garish elements and whipping them into a thoroughly modern, super cool new look. Form fitting trousers feature side seams of snakeskin paired with peep toe stiletto boots and cropped biker jackets, while a flash of neon yellow appears in a cowel necked chiffon top tucked into a blue leather pencil skirt.

Gieves and Hawkes will parade their own traditional Morning and Dinner Suits. Recently worn by Dermot O’Leary when hosting the National Television Awards, the slim-fit black dinner suit was finished with hand-sewn piped satin lapels complemented perfectly by a made to measure crisp white shirt,
black silk tie and hand-made patent dress shoes. Further styles will be seen on the catwalk of their Morning and Dinner Suit range.

The daily fashion show, in association with Longines, is one of the highlights of the Royal Meeting where guests can enjoy a show of five sets put on between courses of luncheon and will finish in time for the arrival of HRH The Queen just before the start of the first race each day.

Gary England, Director of Hospitality, comments “We are delighted to be supporting British fashion especially at a time when British fashion designers are returning to the UK to showcase their collections. For many of the collections it’s the first time that some of them have been seen on UK soil so guests of the Bessborough restaurant are in for a real treat.”

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood is both iconoclast and a global icon having electrified the world for the last 30 years. She is one of the most inventive and influential designers of our time. Best known for her fearless nonconformity, she also has a profound respect for the past and looks to it for inspiration and however outrageous or provocative the result, her approach has always been practical – this is what makes Vivienne one of fashion’s most respected figures.

Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones is considered one of the world's most radical and important milliners of the late 20th and early 21st centuries and is also one of the most prolific, having created hats for the
catwalk shows of many leading couturiers and fashion designers. Jones has always made millinery seem modern and compelling. In materials that were often radical, and in designs that ranged from refined to whimsical, his exquisitely crafted, quixotic hats have always encapsulated the fashion mood of the moment.

Amanda Wakeley
In the 2010 New Year Honours List Her Majesty The Queen appointed Amanda Wakeley an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). The award, for services to the British Fashion Industry, also recognises the considerable contribution that Amanda makes as founding co-Chair of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC).

Amanda Wakeley launched her signature label in 1990 and over the last two decades has developed an international reputation for designing stylish, supremely luxurious, womenswear and accessories. She is the winner of several awards including three British Fashion Awards for Glamour. In April 2009, Amanda completed the buy-back of her business, saving over 50 jobs across the United Kingdom. Since then she has relaunched her brand, opened a new Flagship Store and achieved critical acclaim when she returned to London Fashion Week in September 2009

Matthew Williamson
The year 2007 marked a 10 year anniversary for Matthew Williamson - he launched in 1997 with his debut Electric Angels show. To celebrate, he curated an exhibition about his work at the Design Museum, London.Matthew Williamson won the Red Carpet Designer of the Year at the 2008 British Fashion Awards; previously having been awarded Elle Designer of the Year in 2004 and the 2005 Moet and Chandon Fashion Tribute Award. He has also been nominated 3 times for Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. His entourage have always been a key part of his popularity - whether it was Kate Moss in the early days or latterly Sienna Miller and stylist Bay Garnett, who also worked for him

Gieves & Hawkes
All over the world, Savile Row stands for the very best in men’s tailoring and so it is fitting that Gieves & Hawkes should be “No 1 Savile Row” The Company has held three Royal Warrants since 1809, an unbroken record of service to successive Monarchs and members of their families.

Tickets and fine dining packages for Royal Ascot 2009, (Tuesday, 15th June to Saturday, 19th June) are now on sale. To find out more information or to make a booking please visit our online booking kiosk at, call the Hospitality Team on 0870 727 4321 or email

Further Information
For high resolution images and further information please contact Sarah-Jane Muirie @ Johnno Spence Consulting on 020 7385 8819 or

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Over 200 Real Ales, Ciders & Perries to be Showcased at Ascot this September

4th Annual Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival: Friday 24th & Saturday 25th September 2010.

You can expect more than just excellent quality racing at the 4th Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival in association with CAMRA and Fuller’s on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th September 2010. With the help of CAMRA Berkshire South East branch and Fuller’s, Ascot Racecourse will be showcasing over 200 beers, ciders and perries predominantly from local craft brewers.

‘The Ascot Beer Festival continues to go from strength to strength. Since its inception, we have gone from selling 6,500 pints in 2007 to a whopping 21,000 pints in 2009. To meet demand, we have increased the choice of real ales, ciders and perries available to racegoers by over a third’, said John Blake, Head of Sales and Marketing at the Berkshire track.

‘Following the success of the first three Ascot Beer Festivals, CAMRA is delighted to be invited back to Ascot Racecourse. This is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce the enormous variety of real ales available from independent brewers to an audience who wouldn’t usually attend a beer festival’ CAMRA Festival Organiser Mike Smith added.

Richard Fuller, Sales Director at Fuller’s, said ‘Ascot Racecourse is a fantastic venue and we have worked with Ascot and CAMRA on all the previous festivals, which were a great success. I am very much looking forward to showcasing our beers over the course of the 4th festival in September.’

Sump, a superb example of a black Russian style stout from Wantage based Pitstop Brewery, returns to defend its title of the Ascot Racecourse Beer of the Festival. This is very much a people’s award as it is the racegoers who will be voting for their champion ale.

The racing over the two days is of the highest quality including Saturday’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes; Europe’s highest rated mile race.

Tickets start from just £11. To book call 0870 727 1234 or visit Gates and bars open at 11am with the first race off at 2pm. A voucher system will be in operation for all Beer Festival ales, perries and ciders. A half pint is priced at £1.40 and a pint £2.80. A limited edition commemorative oversized pint glass is available for £4.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Royal Ascot: The Greatest Race Meeting in The World

There are few sporting venues that can match the rich heritage and history of Ascot Racecourse. Over the past 250 years Royal Ascot has established itself as a national institution and the centrepiece of the British social calendar as well as being the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world.

Tradition, pageantry, fashion and style all meet in a glorious setting at one of the most beautiful racecourses in the country. The quality of the horseracing at Royal Ascot is simply outstanding, with £4 million in prize money on offer and a total of seventeen “Group” races over the five days.

Located on Crown Estate land, the racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711. The monarch decreed that the village of ‘East Cote’, now known as Ascot had good galloping ground for horses to exercise upon and instructed that her Master of the Buckhounds should lay out a racecourse. There has been racing at Ascot ever since and the racing during the Royal meeting is second to none. Such is the sustained quality over five days that it is often referred to as the Olympics of the sport by those participating. Owners, trainers and jockeys all dream of having just one winner at Royal Ascot as it’s the pinnacle of the flat season.

Nick Smith, Ascot’s Head of International Racing said: ‘There is no week’s racing like Royal Ascot anywhere in the world in terms of quality and diversity. There are championship contests for all distances and age groups and competition comes from all around the world.’

On the opening day, Tuesday, 15th June, there are three Group One races on the six race card – The Queen Anne Stakes, The St James’s Palace Stakes and The King’s Stand Stakes. On Wednesday, the feature race is The Prince of Wales’s Stakes, one of the highest rated races run in the world every year. Thursday features the best known race at Royal Ascot, The Gold Cup, which celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2007. Last year, the great Yeats completed an unprecedented fourth win in the prestigious long distance contest. The top female horses take centre stage on Friday in The Coronation Stakes, run over a mile, whilst Saturday’s feature race is The Golden Jubilee Stakes, renamed in 2002 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes and the Golden Jubilee Stakes are Royal Ascot’s championship sprint races and part of the Global Sprint Challenge. They are the most international races in the European calendar, having attracted runners from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the USA, Hong Kong and all over Europe this decade.

Royal Ascot 2010 takes place from Tuesday 15th to Saturday 19th June inclusive. Tickets start from just £56 in Grandstand Admission and £17 in the Silver Ring. To book call 0870 727 1234 or visit

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Ascot Racecourse Family Days in 2010

Here's a summary of all six Family Days at Ascot Racecourse in 2010. Ascot provides entertainment for all the family and these days are particularly focussed on giving the little ones a day to remember!

To book any of our Family Days, visit or call 0870 727 1234.

Sunday 18th April 2010: Countryside Raceday
A day jam-packed full of action with great Jumps racing, including the Independent Newspapers Veterans Handicap Chase, a family farm, mini beast safari, duck and ferret racing, sheepdog trials, shopping opportunities and lots more.
Adult prices start from £16. Under 18’s free.

Sunday 25th July 2010: Betfair Weekend Sunday: Alice’s Adventures at Ascot
Turn an ordinary Summer’s afternoon into a magical adventure as we relive Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Start the day with a ride on the rabbit hole helter-skelter and many other fairground rides; between races take tea with the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit, solve the Cheshire Cat’s riddles, have your face painted by the Queen of Hearts and much more.
The feature race of the day is the Hong Kong Sprint.
Adult prices start from £16. Under 18’s free.

Saturday 7th August 2010: Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup and 80s Concert after Racing
The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup is Britain's only jockeys' competition, where teams of riders from all over the world compete over six races for the coveted trophy. The teams are Great Britain, Ireland, Europe and Rest of the World.
The day is easy for everyone to follow and on this unique occasion you get the chance to meet the jockeys taking part and get their autograph in the racecard. This will take place before racing in the Parade Ring.
Fairground Rides will include: sizzler, carousel, waltzer, inflatable slide, flying chairs, tea cups and paratrooper ride. We will also have 10 face painters to keep the children entertained.Back by popular demand, we have a 2 hour live ‘80s concert in the Old Paddock after racing featuring The 'Here & Now' Tour. The line-up is: Boy George, The Christians, Belinda Carlisle, Johnny Hates Jazz, Midge Ure, Captain Sensible and China Crisis.
Adult prices start from £25. Under 18’s free.

Sunday 26th September 2010: Family Fun Day

Our fourth Family Day of the year is one for young and old alike with a series of fun activities to see and do all around the racecourse. We will have a creative workshop in the Pavilion with the chance to paint pictures that you can take home as well as painting a section of a life sized racehorse that will be showcased at the racecourse for years to come. We also have a series of fairground rides including tea cups, inflatable slide, paratrooper ride, flying chairs, toy ride and formula 2000.
Mr Alexander's will be performing his travelling show throughout the afternoon. This is a lively and exciting 20 minute show featuring magic, juggling, uni-cycling and illusion - a performance not to be missed!
Ascot Brass will also be playing on the Bandstand throughout the day.Adult prices start from £16. Under 18’s free.

Saturday 30th October: United House Day featuring a Firework Spectacular after Racing
After the racing action, Ascot presents a Charity Firework Spectacular in association with Ascot Round Table and Ascot Rotary Club. All racegoers buying a ticket to the racing are welcome to stay for the show.There will be rides open all day on the Plaza Lawns these include: the ever popular dodgems, a carousel, ghost train, walter, children’s slide, tea- cups, formula 2000 and a paratrooper ride. The rides will close when the fireworks begin. There will also be three balloon artists creating animal sculptures throughout the afternoon.Adult prices start from £16. Under 18’s free.

Saturday 18th December: BGC Day featuring Christmas Entertainment
A wonderful day of fabulous Jumps racing action and festive fun. Off the track, meet Father Christmas in our Winter Wonderland Grotto where there will be a gift waiting for everyone that has been good this year! (The first 450 children will receive a present).
To make the day truly festive, why not take a ride on the fairground or have your faces painted with a festive motif by one of Santa’s elves. After racing join us for a collection of Christmas Carols in the Grandstand. The festive sing-a-long begins 20 minutes after the last race where a Christmas Carol sheet will be provided.
Adult prices start from £16. Under 18’s free.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Ascot teams up with Champneys to offer al fresco dining at Royal Ascot

First-class dining is on the cards and Ascot Racecourse is delighted to extend their range of Champneys ‘Picnics in a Box’. What better way to start your racing day than by sitting down with friends in the beautiful surroundings of the racecourse, enjoying your own personal picnic in a box.
For those who prefer an ‘al-fresco’ dining option, Champneys’ traditional, premier and classic picnic packages are sure to meet everyone’s needs. Beautifully packaged, both ranges include a starter, main course and dessert and each has a vegetarian option available. New for this year is the Afternoon Tea for Two Picnic Box which includes English Afternoon Tea Sandwich Selection, Fruit Scones and Mini Victoria Sponge and Mini Carrot Cakes.
The Champneys ‘Traditional Picnic in a Box’ is priced at just £35 inclusive of VAT, the Classic packages are £45 inclusive of VAT while the Premier packages are £70 inclusive of VAT. The Afternoon Tea Picnic in a Box for two people is £50 inclusive of VAT. All can be purchased in advance of the Royal Meeting by calling the Royal Ascot picnic booking line on 0870 727 4321. Please note most dietary requirements can be catered for; please email with your dietary requirements.

Roux Brothers to bring the Michelin starred Waterside Inn to Royal Ascot

From Tuesday 15th – Saturday 19th June 2010, Ascot Racecourse welcomes for the first time, the three Michelin–Star chef Michel Roux, owner of the Waterside Inn in Berkshire and his talented son Alain Roux, who is Chef Patron, to Royal Ascot 2010. The two world famous brands of excellence have joined partnership to offer racegoers an experience like no other. The dynamic father and son duo will create a signature menu in the Panoramic Restaurant and are sure to charm guests with their delectable brand of classic French Cuisine which will be given a modern touch.

Guests of ‘The Waterside Inn at the Panoramic’ will be treated to a number of dishes showcasing their specialities in a stunning menu created especially for the Royal Meeting. Masterpieces include cold tomato gazpacho garnished with basil flavoured mozzarella cannelloni, sauté of lamb and roasted best end served with a saffron flavoured celeriac and seasonal vegetables, pistachio flavoured crème-brulée with vanilla ice cream and a trio of British and French cheeses with a fig and walnut bread.

Michel Roux OBE, says “I have been at the helm of the Waterside Inn since 1972 and a regular visitor of Ascot Racecourse during Royal Ascot week ever since. I am therefore very happy that the Waterside Inn will be at the Panoramic Restaurant during Royal Ascot week 2010 and proud to have my son Alain with me, who is in charge of the kitchen at the Waterside Inn, along with our General Manager Diego Masciaga. It is a natural joint venture as we share the same patrons during Royal Ascot week so it is a perfect blend and of course the racecourse is only a stone`s throw from Bray. I am excited to work with Ascot Hospitality who are renowned for their excellence.”

Managed by The Waterside Inn General Manager Diego Masciaga, the Panoramic Restaurant will be run using teams from both the restaurant and racecourse giving diners at the racecourse an authentic Waterside Inn warm and friendly experience.

Michel Roux has earned more than 30 culinary awards and distinctions as well as seven medals in his distinguished career and is the author of ten culinary books. Alain became the Chef Patron of The Waterside Inn in 2001 and is now solely in charge of the restaurant. Under Michel's leadership, the Waterside has won numerous plaudits, including the holy grail of three Michelin stars, awarded in 1985, and it has held that accolade longer than any other restaurant in Britain. The Waterside Inn is a beautiful Tudor-style building situated in the 16th century village of Bray, Berkshire, on the banks of the River Thames and houses the eponymous award-winning restaurant as well as guest accommodation.

Chefs Michel and Alain Roux’s menu are available for lunch during the Royal Ascot Week (Tuesday 15th – Saturday 19th June) and reservations can be made on 0870 727 4321 or email: or visit for more information.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A brief history of Ascot Racecourse

There are few sporting venues that can match the rich heritage and history of Ascot Racecourse. Over the past 300 years Royal Ascot has established itself as a national institution and the centrepiece of the British social calendar as well as being the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world.
It was Queen Anne who first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot, which in those days was called East Cote. Whilst out riding in 1711, she came upon an area of open heath, not far from Windsor Castle, that looked an ideal place for “horses to gallop at full stretch”.
The first race meeting ever held at Ascot took place on Saturday 11 August 1711. Her Majesty’s Plate, worth 100 guineas and open to any horse, mare or gelding over the age of six, was the inaugural event. Each horse was required to carry a weight of 12st and seven runners took part.This contest bore little resemblance to racing seen at Ascot today. The seven horses were all English Hunters, quite different to the speedy thoroughbreds that race on the flat now. The race consisted of three separate heats which were four miles long (each heat was about the length of the Grand National course), so the winner would have been a horse with tremendous stamina. Sadly, there is no record of the winner of the first Plate.
Today the tradition does not change – the Queen Anne Stakes continues to be run in memory of the monarch who founded the course nearly three centuries ago.
The racecourse was laid out by William Lowen, who was assisted by a team of helpers, William Erlybrown, a carpenter, Benjamin Cluchett, a painter, and John Grape, who prepared the paper work for racing. The first permanent building was erected in about 1794 by George Slingsby, a Windsor builder. It held 1,650 people and was used until 1838.
In 1813, Parliament passed an Act of Enclosure. This Act ensured that Ascot Heath, although the property of the Crown, would be kept and used as a racecourse for the public in the future. Racing at Ascot was now secure.
The precise origin of the Royal Meeting is unclear, it was an event that evolved perhaps, rather than was introduced at a specific time but the first four day meeting took place in 1768. Arguably, the meeting as we know it today started to take shape with the introduction of the Gold Cup in 1807. Royal Ascot was the only race meeting held at Ascot until 1939.
Gold Cup day remains the feature race of the third day of Royal Ascot and is traditionally the busiest day of the week. It is colloquially known as “Ladies’ Day” as, in the formative years, it was the dominant day in terms of the racing, attracting the largest crowds and, it must be assumed from the emergence of the term “Ladies’ Day,” more ladies!
Although founded by a Queen and located on Crown property, the administration of Ascot has always been handled on behalf of the Crown by a representative appointed by the Monarch. The racecourse was run on behalf of the Sovereign by the Master of the Royal Buckhounds up until 1901 when Lord Churchill was appointed as His Majesty’s Representative. He was responsible for running the course and determining entrance to the Royal Enclosure.
In 1913, the Ascot Authority was established by an Act of Parliament. His Majesty’s Representative became Chairman of the Authority with the Clerk of the Course acting as Secretary. Today, as Ascot Authority (Holdings) Limited, Ascot retains both these positions, but with the additional appointment of trustees and non-executive directors, a Chief Executive and departmental directors, of which the Clerk of the Course, who is also Racing Director, is one.
Until 2001 Ascot Racecourse was a private company – no accounts published. In January 2002, as part of our preparation for the redevelopment of the Racecourse, Ascot incorporated. Ascot Racecourse Ltd. is now established as the organisation responsible for running the Racecourse.Her Majesty The Queen, as an owner and breeder of racehorses takes a keen interest in the races. Over the years The Queen has had great success with her own horses. The Jockeys riding Her Majesty's horses can be distinguished because they wear The Queen's racing colours. These are the same as those of King Edward VII and George IV as Prince Regent - purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe.
The Queen traditionally presents the Gold Cup, which, along with the Royal Hunt Cup and The Queen's Vase. These three trophies are made every year and presented to winners to keep. Challenge Trophies, many of which are antique, are presented to the winners of the remaining 27 races, and are returned after the year to be presented to the next winners.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Ascot Racecourse: 20 Fascinating Facts

Here are some interesting facts you may not know about the World’s Most Famous Racecourse:

  1. Ascot Racecourse has been in operation since 1711 when Queen Anne rode out from Windsor Castle and declared this area of East Cote the perfect place for her horses to run full stretch. In 2011, Ascot Racecourse will celebrate its tercentenary.

  2. The first Royal Meeting at Ascot took place in 1768. The meeting was extended to five days in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

  3. Ascot Racecourse is visited by over 550,000 racegoers a year (latest figures from January to December 2009 inclusive), accounting for 10% of all UK racegoers. Ascot was the first racecourse in Europe to reach the 500,000 racegoer milestone in December 2001.

  4. Royal Ascot is Britain’s most popular race meeting, welcoming over 275,000 visitors over the five days of Royal Ascot.

  5. Royal Ascot is the most valuable race meeting in Europe with £4 million in prize money on offer in 2010, featuring a Group One race on each of the five days and seventeen group races in total.

  6. There are two tracks - Flat and Chase & Hurdle (first jump fixture in 1965), allowing us to race throughout the year with both flat & jump meetings.

  7. It is a Right handed course, slightly in excess of 1 mile 6 furlongs.

  8. Famed for being a tough course, especially over fences - 73 foot climb from the lowest to highest point (Swinley Bottom up to the Winning Post).

  9. The Racecourse covers 179 acres, plus exterior car/coach parks.

  10. The ground is looked after impeccably by the 12 regular ground staff.

  11. Grass is cut to a regulation 4” height for flat racing and 5” for jump racing.

  12. The reservoirs on site in the middle of the track collect rain water from the grandstand roof and the Winkfield and Heath tunnels.

  13. There is currently 70 full-time staff at Ascot Racecourse. The workforce increases by over 6,000 temporary staff during Royal Ascot.

  14. Ascot Racecourse is leased from the Crown Estate, adjacent to Windsor Great Park.

  15. Ascot’s facilities are available for hire throughout the year for a variety of different purposes, including conferences, banqueting, exhibitions, diner dances, product launches and weddings.

  16. At Royal Ascot 2009, the following quantities were consumed: 60,000 bottles of Champagne, 8,300 gallons of Pimm’s, 16,000 gallons of beer, 40,000 scones, 1,500 lobsters, 8,000 spears of asparagus and 11,500 punnets of strawberries

  17. During the months of June and July, we have a triple-decker temporary structure equipped with fully functioning lifts was which is erected in the Old Paddock to house The Carriages Restaurant and The Bessborough Suite. Up to 1,400 covers are provided each day in this premier facility.

  18. Ascot has 266 private boxes.

  19. There are 39 kitchens operational for Royal Ascot with 25 specific to the new Grandstand, plus finishing kitchens, one for every two boxes.

  20. The new Grandstand, opened in 2006, cost £200m to build and was opened on time and on budget.

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