Monday, 16 December 2013

Day 7 (Monday 16th December) Terms & Conditions:

1.    Competition closes at 9am on Tuesday 17th December 2013.
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Saturday, 13 July 2013

First July Weekend Preview

It is going to be a beautifully hot day at Ascot today, so plenty of sun cream required. The ground is good to firm and has been watered.

Taajub: sprinter back at his favourite summer spot
We kick off at top speed with the Betfred Mobile Sports Handicap, a sprint handicap over 5f worth £62,000 to the winner.

Taajub loves it at Ascot and won once over this trip last year and twice finished second, including in this race. He ran well at Sandown last time after finding trouble in running, is back to a good handicap mark and must surely go close.

He and Barnet Fair, who beat him in this last year and is another running well at present, meet again and the pair of rivals could fight out the finish once more.

Aljamaaheer can claim a first Group race win
The consistent Aljamaaheer ran a fantastic race when second in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes in June when beaten just three-quarters of a length by Declaration Of War. He meets nothing of that class in our feature, the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile (2.30) and can make the most of the opportunity to get a Group race win on his CV.

Mull Of Kinlogh is an improving type and picked up the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton in the spring, unfortunately, he has not really got his ideal conditions here. Guest Of Honour is at the top of his game and has not finished out of the first two in his four starts this season.

Premio Loco ran a huge race in the Royal Hunt Cup here in June and was just beaten by Belgian Bill.  If he comes here in the same sort of form, he must have strong chances.

Look out for Autumn
Debutant winner Autumn Lily was posed a big question in the Chesham Stakes and finished down the field, and she might find the Ruddy Fillies’ Nursery Handicap (3.05) over 7f more her level. Royal Connection and Mimi Luke finished second and third over 7f at Chester on good ground in  June and both hold strong chances, with the former, a Richard Hannon-trained runner having her first run in a nursery, holding obvious chances on that basis alone.

A hat-trick for Jabhaat?
It is a fillies’ day and the three and four-year-old girls take each other on in the mile Norman Court Stud Fillies’ Handicap (3.40) and the hat-trick seeking Jabhaat will be the likely favourite. Her last two wins came over 7f on firm and good to firm ground, the last victory by an easy 6l. An improving type, she can make the most of her three-year-olds’ weight for age allowance here.

A Bold day for the Queen
After The Queen’s wonderful win in the Gold Cup with Estimate at the Royal meeting, it would be fantastic if Bold Sniper, who ran well when third in the King George V Stakes at the same meeting, could give Her Majesty a third success at Ascot this season by taking the Neptune Investment Management Handicap (4.15), a race for three-year-olds only.

But it looks a very competitive race on paper – trainer David Simcock thinks a lot of Café Society and believes the horse has a big future ahead of him, while London Bridge put in a strong winning performance last time out at Ripon on good to firm.

Go for the Burn 
The 1m2f is a significant step-up in trip for Ogbourne Downs, who has won twice from three starts over a mile, and it might prove too big an ask for the Charlie Hills-trained runner in the Tara & Pippa Handicap (4.50). So preference is with Hughie Morrison’s Burnham, a gelding by Nayef who has form over the trip and on the faster ground.  Don’t ignore Mark Johnston’s Love Maramalade – the trainer specialises in winning middle-distance races with three-year-olds at this time of year.

Labienus can round the day off
Labienus should be suited by a strongly run 7f, which he should get in the last on today’s card, the 7f Mitie Total Security Management Handicap (5.25), while if Benoni, who likes to come late on the scene, gets luck in running he should be a big threat.  At a longer price, Tidentime is one to note in the paddock and at the bookies.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

International Rivalry For The Diamond Jubilee

It’s all about the speedsters today with the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Leg 6 of the Global Sprint Challenge, today’s feature race.

Last year’s renewal was won in dramatic fashion by Black Caviar, and while the wonder mare is not here today (she has been retired and has gone to have babies), our international challenge comes from Havelock, trained by Darrin Miller in the US, and the John O’Shea-trained Sea Siren, who has travelled to European from Australia. 

Sea Siren looked in fabulous order at the Ascot press conference at Newmarket last week and connections reported that she had travelled well and is at home in her new surroundings. Her recent form in Australia is looking very strong and she has a great chance of emulating her country mates’ achievements. The prevailing fast ground will suit.

Of the home team, Society Rock also loves fast ground and comes into this off the back of a win at York in May and a Group 1 victory at Haydock last September. He is aiming to become the first horse to reclaim a Diamond Jubilee crown, but, beware, he is never the fastest out of the stalls.  

At a longer price, Krypton Factor is one to bear in mind. He has not run since a good third in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen at Meydan, and he must have quick ground to show his best – his sixth in this last year (just a head behind Society Rock) came on ground too slow.

Suspicions are that it will be too quick for Gordon Lord Byron, and while this race is a big ask for a three-year-old filly, Restiadargent did manage a third last year. Word has it that Roshdu Queen, a talented two-year-old, has been working very well in the run up to this.

Bunker down in the Chesham
The Listed Chesham Stakes over 7f sees a big field of 21 juveniles challenging for Royal Ascot glory.

Bunker, who was bought by Sheikh Joaan after his first time out success over 6f, is current favourite, this race always being the plan en route to Group 1 entries later in the year.

Somewhat has already won over 7f when successful at Musselburgh on June 14 by 7l and is another with an eye on Group 1 entries in the summer.

Ihtimal was second first time out to yesterday’s Albany Stakes winner Kiyoshi, and then to Wedding Ring, fifth in the Albany, and should appreciate this extra furlong here.

Mount Athos can take the Hardwicke Stakes
Ektihaam ran well when winning here in May (beat Thomas Chippendale) and looks as though he will go well over the 1m4f trip in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (3.05), but he is one who would have wanted the rain to arrive.  

This is a big step-up in class for Sir John Hawkwood, though he is proven over the distance, so preference is for the consistent Mount Athos, owned by the enthusiastic Dr Marwan Koukash. The son of Montjeu has Group-winning form over this distance on a variety of ground and put in a great performance last autumn when fifth in the Melbourne Cup. 

Dinkum has fair chance in the Wokingham
Sir Michael Stoute fields two fancied runners – Duke Of Firenze and Ladyship, both owed by Cheveley Park Stud – in the 29-strong 6f Wokingham Stakes and both have strong chances .

One at a longer price is Dinkum Diamond. He relishes fast ground and a quick pace, which is almost guaranteed here. He has done most of his running over 5f, but as a five-year-old, and trained by Henry Candy who has previous with good sprinters, looks ready to get the extra furlong now. He is worth an each-way bet.

Castle can be King for the Duke 
The middle-distance 1m4f Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap (5.00) is another race with a big field of 22. 

Highland Castle has always been held in high regard by his trainer David Elsworth, who sees him as a prospect for the Ebor. He loves the quick ground, has to be held up so will need luck in running, but will be seen doing his best work at the finish. He looks well handicapped on his 2012 form.

Go Mad in the finale
The lucky last, the Queen Alexandra Stakes (5.30) over 2m5f, is the longest race on the Royal Ascot card. 

Courtesy Call, a son of Manduro who wants fast ground, represents yesterday’s winning trainer Nicky Henderson, but preference is for Mad Moose, trained by fellow NH trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. 

The horse has refused to start in three runs over hurdles, but he won over 1m4f at Doncaster in May before finishing second to Mount Athos at Chester. Despite his lack of enthusiasm at the start, he does put his best hoof forward when racing and should go close with William Twiston-Davies on board. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Who Will Be The Coronation Queen?

Day 4 sees this year’s leading three-year-old fillies take centre stage in the mile Group 1 Coronation Cup.

Sky Lantern, winner of the 1,000 Guineas, and Just The Judge, winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, are the clear picks on form, but neither have been done any favours by the draw.

Many judges are preferring to go with Big Break, who ran on well to finish fourth in the Irish Classic on her first run of the year after herself having a poor draw, while French-based pundits have always thought Siyenca would be their best chance of success this week – and she has a good stalls position in four. She had disastrous run in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, and is considered to be a far better filly than that performance showed.

The Irish-trained filly Viztoria is also one to put into the mix as a rapidly improving filly, but Sky Lantern has shown exemplary form so far this year and if Richard Hughes can find some cover, get her settled, her turn of foot in the last furlong should prove decisive.

Sandiva can make it three out of three in the Albany
The juvenile fillies start the day off in the Group 3 Albany Stakes, run over 6f.
Richard Fahey’s filly Sandiva has done nothing wrong so far, winning two out of two, the second being a Listed race at Naas in May, which she won without having to be fully extended.  She is a half-sister to Wentworth, fourth in the mile Britannia Handicap yesterday, and should have both the speed and stamina for this.

Leading challengers include Joyeuse, Wonderfully and Wedding Ring.

Go into Battle in the King Edward
The Group 2 King Edward VII (3.05) over 1m4f is the race for the leading middle-distance three-year-old colts who either did not make it to the Derby or who were not quite good enough on race day.

Battle Of Marengo is one from the latter group, though he still finished a creditable fourth at Epsom. He is easily ahead of this field on official ratings, and as long as the Derby effort has not taken too much out of him, he should show his rivals clean pair of heels here. Contributor could be the one to follow him home.

Get Fatt in the Wolferton
There has been early morning money for Fattsota in the 1m2f Wolferton Handicap (4.25), who was a dual winner over course and distance last year.  He was sent on his holidays over the winter to Dubai where he ran twice, finishing second once. He was then out of his depth in the 1m4f Group 3 John Porter Stakes, but subsequently ran well in a handicap at Epsom, despite not handling the track. He looked then as though further should suit and this stiff 1m2f should be ideal.

A Queen’s Vase for Team Cecil?
The Queen’s Vase is being run in memory of Sir Henry Cecil (a race he won eight times) and Lady Cecil will be represented by Disclaimer, who is bidding for a fifth win in succession. Last time out he beat Contributor (runs in the King Edward VII) with some ease, and although he has never run further than 1m3f, his dam won over 1m6f.

Leading Light won a Group 3 last time and although his pedigree does not appeal on the stamina front, he runs in the style of a true stayer.

The market has these two way ahead of the field – most of which look as though they are in this because they have few other options at Royal Ascot – and it will probably prove wise to stick with either or go with both.

Baccarat, Bertiewhittle and Redvers are options in the last
The last on today’s card, the 7f Buckingham Palace Handicap (7f), is another open-looking handicap, with only Enrol (7-1) priced lower than 10-1.

Baccarat won twice over 7f last season and dead-heated over 6f at Ripon in April on his first start in 2013 having not run since June last year. He is clearly a fragile horse to train, and has been raised 10lb for that last success.

Bertiewhittle finished second over course and distance in May in the Victoria Cup behind Excellent Guest, who was ninth in the Royal Hunt Cup earlier this week.  He gets into this on a handy weight and is worth consideration, as does Redvers, fourth in that Victoria Cup and a winner last time on firm ground at Haydock. He is in form and if gets the run of the race – he needs to be held up – is a strong contender.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Day Fit For The Queen

No reigning monarch has ever won the Ascot Gold Cup; can history be made today?

Sir Michael Stoute and his team will be certainly be hoping that The Queen’s Estimate will be the one to change the course of history. The filly will be searching for back-to-back Royal Ascot wins having won the 2m Queen’s Vase last year, and back-to-back Ascot wins having won the 2m Sagaro Stakes at the May meeting.

This 2m4f trip will be the furthest the filly has eve run, but she acts well here and has every chance. 

One who is guaranteed to stay is Rite Of Passage, winner of this in 2010. The son of Giant’s Causeway does not run much and has not been seen on a racecourse since winning here at the last Champions’ meeting, but that was his only run in 2012 and his talented trainer will have him primed for a big run.

Last year’s winner Colour Vision and third Saddler’s Rock take their chances again, but both would probably prefer a slower surface. One would will enjoy the ground, is stepping up to 2m4f for the first time, but has placed Group 1 form and was second in a Group 2 over 2m at Longchamp last time is Last Train from the Andre Fabre yard.  He has a big chance at a good price.

When Aidan O’Brien openly tells the press which horse is his best two-year-old of the year, it is wise to pay attention – particularly when the trainer has already had already had one impressive two-year-old winner this week.

Coach House is favourite for the Group 1 6f Norfolk Stakes (2.30) and it is probably sensible just to trust the Irishman’s judgement.

However, is worth taking on the current favourite Alive Alive Oh in the Group 2 1m4f Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05) as all her winning form has coming on yielding or soft ground in Ireland. 

Just Pretending is stepping back in class but up in trip after a third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and has obvious chances on that form, but Winsili could put Prince Khalid Abdullah on the winner’s podium for the first time this week. A beautifully bred filly, she won the Listed 1m2f Swettenham Stud Stakes at Newbury last time when looking a decent filly in the making. 

The Queen has great chances of a quick fire double on the card with Sea Shanty, who is searching a four-timer in the mile Britannia Handicap (4.05). The gelding is on the upgrade and has more improvement to come.

Secret Talent has only run three times, including when second here in May behind the Professor, a subsequent dual Listed winner.  He has already acted well on a fast surface and has always been held in high regard by trainer Hughie Morrison.

The 1m2f Tercentenary Stakes (5.00) could go to the French invader and Aga Khan-owned Shikarpour, who was a good fifth in the Prix du Jockey-Club at the beginning of the month, while our finale, the King George V takes looks an very open race – no horse on the early prices was shorter than 5-1. 

The early favourite is Bold Sniper, another for The Queen (can we believe Her Highness could get a three-timer on the card?), but preference is for the Mark Johnston-trained and Joe Fanning-ridden Royal Skies, who has won his last two with ease despite being hiked up in the weights by the handicapper after the first of those two victories. The son of Dubawi is sure to get the trip in a race won by Johnston and Fanning last year – in fact, Johnston has won this race an incredible four times in the last ten years.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Day Two Preview

After nearly a clean sweep on Day 1 by Irish trainers and Irish connections, the British home team needs to start and make its mark – but it is going to be difficult.
Al Kazeem, the likely favourite for our feature race, the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (3.45) over 1m2f is, is a great chance for Beckhampton trainer Roger Charlton to get on the Group 1 winners’ board.

The son of Dubawi is a lightly raced sort and the improving five-year-old was a staying on last-time-out winner of his first Group 1 from Camelot in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
That represents top class form and there appears to be no reason for Camelot to turn the tables, however judging by yesterday’s results, the O’Brien team is in superb form and this stiff 1m2f trip might just suit the Irish raider.
Red Cadeaux is a hugely admirable horse, always gives of his best, and at the current prices (20s in places) represents good each-way value.

Gale can blow away rivals

The opening Group 3 7f Jersey Stakes (2.30) for three-year-olds should get the O’Brien team off to a winning start.

Gale Force Ten put in a great effort to just be denied by Magician in the Irish 2000 Guineas and although that winner did not frank the form yesterday, this son of Oasis Dream is a consistent sort who finished second in the Norfolk Stakes last year.
Well Acquainted, trained by Clive Cox, is one to consider at a price.

Take your pick of the fillies

Chigun was supplemented for the mile Duke Of Cambridgeshire Stakes (3.05) by Lady Cecil’s team and holds every chance; Duntle has done little wrong in her career to date and holds the strongest form claims, while Thistle Bird looks to be an improving sort now that she has learnt to relax more in her races.
Pop to the paddock and pick out the filly who appeals the most on looks and who seems to be taking the busy race day in her stride.

Dream of a Royal Hunt Cup winner

The huge 30-runner field always creates an amazing spectacle over the straight mile course and finding the winner is never an easy task.
The pace of the race appears to be amongst the high numbers so although Premio Loco looks ready to win, is down to his lowest BHA mark since 2009 and a previous course and distance winner, might be disadvantaged from stall 2.
Excellent Guest was indeed an excellent winner here last time for trainer George Margarson, who loves targeting this big Ascot mile handicaps and he finished second with this horse in this last year. Unfortunately, the handicapper has put the son of Exceed And Excel up to his highest mark yet and may just have weighted him out of it.
One who looks nicely handicapped for this is Jamie Osborne’s Field Of Dream, who is back to 98 and is just a pound higher than when fourth in this race last year. He blew his chance in the stalls then, but went onto win over 7f at Ascot’s July meeting off a mark of 99. He has had to ply his trade off marks of over 100 since, while he has not worn blinkers for his last two runs. They are back on today.

Rizeena: can she make all to win the Queen Mary?

The winning filly needs to have speed to burn in the 5f Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes (5.00) and one who is aptly named is Fast from the Richard Hannon team.
She won her maiden on her first start by 7l on soft ground at Chepstow, a win that immediately had connections considering this race, while Bedale Memory is already a Listed winner and was bought by Qatar Racing after her first start. Tsk note though, hoth fillies have shown their form on softer, early season ground.

Rizeena is well regarded by the Clive Brittain camp and she built on her victory here in May (good to firm ground then) with a Listed success in the National Stakes at Sandown. She has raced prominently in both her successes and got the trip well, so jockey James Doyle, who is riding for the first time, can be confident that he can ride her in a similar way and keep her out of trouble in this large field of juveniles.

Go with the form factor for the Sandringham Stakes

Another fillies’ race rounds today off with the Listed mile Sandringham Handicap (5.35). Woodland Aria gets into this on a handy weight and based on her form – two runs ago in the Group 2 Musidora Stakes she finished third to subsequent Oaks fifth Liber Nauticus – will be the likely favourite.
Mango Diva’s chance is also best judged on subsequent performances by previous opponents. She was second in May’s Heron Stakes behind Montiridge, a Group 2 runner-up last autumn to Trading Leather. That one was third in this spring’s Irish 2000 Guineas, was a Listed winner earlier this month and now has the Irish Derby on his agenda.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Day One Preview

Royal Ascot 2013 has arrived and with it a host of international challengers, a fantastic week’s racing and just maybe the hint of some sunshine.

We have a week’s sport ahead of that the late Sir Henry Cecil would have been proud to be a part of – indeed a number of runners with good chances are due to be fielded over the five days by Lady Cecil from Warren Place, including today’s fancied Tiger Cliff, who runs in the Ascot Stakes

Sir Henry loved Royal Ascot and in honour of his amazing record here we are holding a minute’s silence before racing today.

Will Kingdom rule?
And then we get straight into the top class action with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (2.30) in which one of the most-talked about horses of the spring is due to take part – the US-trained Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom, who has been resident in Lambourn since travelling from the Emirates in April.

The Graham Motion team report that their fine-looking horse to be in great fettle, although are cautioning that, as he has never run over a straight mile on turf, maybe it is not the straight forward task that the price seem to suggest.

However, he has achieved far more on the form front than other runner in this race and he should make history today by becoming the first Kentucky Derby winner to achieve success at Royal Ascot.

The bet is for a place and although this is a first 2013 start for Elusive Kate, she is a talented genuine Group 1 filly who finished third to Excelebration over course and distance at the Champions’ meeting in October.  Don’t be put off by lack of action so far this year – in 2012 she finished second to Giofra in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes first time out.

A first winner for South Africa?
The 5f King’s Stand Stakes also sees an international challenge to the fore, this time from South Africa with Shea Shea a 2-1 chance and out to become the first-ever South African-trained winner at Royal Ascot.

Another here off the back of a last-time-out success in Dubai, the lightning fast Shea Shea broke his own the track record at Meydan in the Al Quoz Sprint beating the good yardstick Joy And Fun, with Sole Power back in fourth.

If Shea Shea has travelled over well, he should have too much raw speed for the Clive Cox-trained three-year-old Reckless Abandon, a good third in the Temple Stakes (G3) in May, and fellow traveller Shamexpress, who stepped up to Group 1-winning form last time at Flemington, Australia.

Again if looking for an each-way bet, it might be worth looking further down the list of fancied runners and with a dry day ahead of us, Sole Power, who was third in this last year on unsuitable soft ground, has to have a chance if he the race goes right for him (has to have cover until late), while Kingsgate Native looks to be right back to his best, though he has never threatened in this race previously.

A new Dawn?
The St James’s Palace Stakes (3.45) was a late decider for the 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach, who fluffed his lines so completely in the Derby. The colt must have come out of the Epsom Classic in good form for trainer Jim Bolger to be considering this as an option and, if he returns to his best, he will be difficult to beat.

It looks as though it will be a battle of the Guineas winners with Magician, successful in the Irish 2000, the current second favourite. He looks an improving three-year-old and this uphill course should suit him as he has already won over 1m2f.

Sir John to arise
Aidan O’Brien has three of the top four in the betting for the 6f Group 2 Coventry Stakes (3.45), headed by Stubbs and Sir John Hawkins, with Championship from the Richard Hannon team – a regular-winning trainer of this race – and Riverboat Springs from the Mick Channon yard splitting the Irish trio.

The unbeaten Thunder Strike, also from the Hannon team, showed plenty of speed to win the Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom (Riverboat Springs second), but the market and stable jockey prefers the Julie Woods-owned stablemate.

This race is often a pointer to the future 2000 Guineas winner  (it was won last year by Dawn Approach) and Sir John Hawkins, winner of his sole start so far, appeals as a horse with a future.

Cliff for Cecil?
We go from a sprint trip for juveniles to one of the longest races of the Royal Ascot week, the Ascot Stakes (5.00) over 2m4f, and run over the same course as Thursday’s Gold Cup.

Current favourite is Lady Cecil’s Tiger Cliff, a race earmarked for the son of Tiger Hill by the late great trainer who told owner Henry Ponsonby that he was sure the gelding would stay the trip. It would be fitting if Cecil’s predictions could come true.

Nearer the bottom of the handicap and running off 9st3lb, Homeric was a last time out Ascot winner over 2m, his first try over an extended trip.  He raced a little keen initially then, but should settle better now and has the added benefit of the services of Frankie Dettori.

Mysterious Man has not run over such a trip, but he is bred to appreciate it being out of a half-sister to former Ascot Gold Cup winner Enzeli.

It’s all down to Anticipation 
The Listed Windsor Castle Stakes for two-year-olds rounds the day off with the well-named Anticipated (by Whipper and out of Foreplay) current favourite having been unbeaten in two starts to date, including over course and distance in May.

He is another Hannon graduate so take note of his earlier juvenile runners in the Coventry.

Ogermeister is here from the US, representing the Wesley Ward team previously successful in this in 2009. He broke fast to win his first start in the US, and if he can do so again, yet without burning himself out, then he will have every chance.

Fountain Of Youth from the O’Brien yard is out of Attraction, a former Queen Mary winner, and won at Tipperary in a fast time, while the John Gosden-trained Ben Hall probably would prefer faster ground.

Friday, 7 June 2013


The England Senior Female Football Team are looking forward to a well-deserved day out at Royal Ascot on Saturday 22nd June.  The comfortable surrounds of the new Pavilion Club will be their base for the day and the players will be making the most of some time off from training, ahead of their next match against Japan, the current World Cup holders, at the Pirelli Burton Stadium on Wednesday 26th June. It’s a friendly international match and the second of two testing home internationals as Hope Powell prepares her side for Euro 2013. 

Be in with a chance of winning two tickets to see the ladies play in this international friendly by booking your Grandstand Admission Ticket for Royal Ascot between Monday 10th and Friday 14th June.  What’s more, the lucky winner and their guest, will receive an upgrade to the new and exclusive Pavilion Club when they attend Royal Ascot!  Just a short walk from the track and Parade Ring, it’s the perfect base for the day, with complimentary Afternoon Tea included with your badge.

The winner will be selected at random and announced on Monday 17th June.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

#AscotAsks Sasha Wilkins, Fashion Tips And Trends For #RoyalAscot

Sasha Wilkins in New York by Jackie Dixon

1. What fashion advice would you give to men going to Royal Ascot?
I’ve never met any man who doesn’t look extremely good in a well cut suit. Although the Silver Ring doesn’t have a precise dress code, those who look best are always those who make an effort. For those in the Royal Enclosure who are hiring a morning suit, do make sure you try it on beforehand: badly fitting coats ruin the look!

2. How did you get into fashion and blogging?
I started out at British Conde Nast, the home of Vogue, as second assistant to the editorial director (I make a very good cup of tea). When I moved to Manhattan in 2007 I started a daily online diary, which evolved into my now full time job of running LibertyLondonGirl

3. How do I make my outfit stand out from the crowd this year?
Colour! Black is definitely to be avoided. I covered Ascot fashion for the BBC for four years and the people who always looked and photographed best wore colours like bright pink, yellow and orange. If you don’t like brights on your body, go for neon coloured shoes or bags. And, of course, a great hat!

4. Which style of hat do you prefer?
I’ll be lucky enough to be in the Royal Enclosure this year, which means my hat base has to be bigger than 6cm, so I've ordered a quite a large navy blue circle with flowers underneath, that perches on the front of my head, from milliner Edwina Ibbotson. Think satellite dish!

I do like a spotted net veil too, given half a chance. New online hat rental service The Hat Club has some really good Ascot options this year.

5. What should I take as outerwear if the weather is unpredictable?
A brolly is your best bet. It’s rarely that cold at Ascot even if it is pelting down. I take a fine cashmere shawl that can fold up into nothing, and a stylish cream pagoda umbrella. Why ruin your look with a folding black umbrella!

6. What are the key colours for this season?
I always say choose what suits you: yellow is key this season, but it’s a tricky colour if you are milk bottle pale like me. Better to be stylish than fashionable.

7. Are flats or heels best for a day at the races?
I’m a fashion editor: I’m always going to say heels! But, please, NEVER platform stripper heels. Nothing looks worse than girls who can’t walk in their shoes. If you can’t face a 4” stiletto like me, then there are lots of mid height heels around this season, and I've been known to take a pair of those clever tiny folding ballet flats in my bag for the walk to and from the station – which is a good ten minutes, and impossible in anything higher than 3”.

8. If you’re on a tight budget, how do you ensure you still look great?
Immaculate grooming: lovely clean shiny hair, painted nails and toes, and a bright lipstick – red for brunettes, orange for blondes, either if you have darker skin. And do wear a hat: they aren't all expensive, try renting or check out Stephen Jones’ wonderful new collection of hats for Designers at  Debenhams

9. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
The designer Suzannah has made me the most beautiful navy silk prom dress to wear on Ladies Day, and I cannot wait to wear it. I would also like to not lose any money with the bookies!

To find out more about Sasha Wilkins, visit her interesting blog LibertyLondonGirl.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

#AscotAsks Martha Ward, Key Fashions And Trends For #RoyalAscot

1. Have you got any advice for what colours and patterns are in season this year?
We go through multiple shades each season, but right now it’s all about pinks & reds. And there’s always a place for neutral shades. Print wise - florals of all varieties are big this season, as is snake print.

2. What do you advise this year, flats or heels? And if you can’t wear one of these?
Rather brilliantly it’s all about the flat this season. And kitten heels are all the rage too. Hooray for the ladies!

3. If you’re on a tight budget, can you suggest how to look fabulous?
The high street in the UK is so completely brilliant that dressing on a budget is really no difficulty. Some of my favourite dresses are from H&M and Zara and people still exclaim surprise. My advice is to steer clear of fabrics that look synthetic (i.e. shiny), and too tight or too short never helps, so try and go more classic in style; and to accessorize well - necklaces etc - as that often makes something appear more high end.

4. What size of bag do you suggest for a day at the races?
Although a clutch might be the natural suggestion, the reality is that you need your hands for drinks, bets, and cheering at the finishing line, so I always encourage a ‘hands free’ bag -  i.e. one that has a long-ish strap so that it can sit on your shoulder, or across your body. And not too large or it overtakes the outfit.

5. Is it better to stick with seasonal trends or stand out from the crowd?
Sometimes seasonal trends will MAKE you stand out from the crowd! So don’t be too steered by what’s hot and what’s not. Be comfortable, and if it happens that you are partial to a floral or to red, and that’s the hottest thing right now, then so be it.

6. Can you suggest what to wear to look sophisticated when you are expecting?  
I think empire cut for a bump is a very elegant look. And if it’s a normal dress then you can create the empire line effect by belting loosely just above the bump.

7. How did you get into the Fashion world?

Kind of accidentally actually. I was working at Conde Nast, as magazines was always where my interest lay, and a job came up at Tatler, so I applied for it (with the lovely Natalie Massanet and Kate Reardon) and was offered it, and it was like a duck to water!

8. We all know what the British summer is like, what’s the best way to cover up from the elements in style?
I love a longer sleeve on a dress, so I’d go for that option as there are never any guarantees on weather.  Then you don’t have to worry about outerwear. Or a long line coat over a dress is a very elegant look.  I personally prefer that to a short jacket.  Unless it’s a skirt and top, then a jacket is preferable. Rules rules! Actually, there are no real rules in my book.

9. What are your thoughts on his and hers matching outfits? 
It reminds me of Posh&Becks circa 2000, so I’m veto-ing that look I’m afraid.

10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
Seeing the lovely Royal Ascot team first & foremost! And pulling out my prettiest outfits to wear, as it’s one of the few occasions when you actually can (and must) do so. I love being a Lady on Ladies Day! Make the most of the dress code I say.

To find out more about Vogue TV's Martha Ward visit her website or to book Royal Ascot tickets visit

Friday, 10 May 2013

Some Fast Young Ladies Kick Today’s Action Off | Friday 10th May 2013

Some fast young ladies kick today’s action off at a pace with two-year-old fillies battling it over 5f in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Fillies´ Stakes at 5.30pm.

There are a number having their racecourse debuts and the market is going with Oriel from the Richard Hannon yard, which provides an amazing four runners in the field.

Likely to be sent off race favourite, the press vibes ahead of today have been strong for the Highclere Thoroughbred-owned filly, who also holds plenty of big race entries this summer, and is the selection of the stable jockey Richard Hughes.

Hannon’s record with his two-year-olds at Ascot is second to none so don’t put it past the yard to collect the first three places.

Another Winner For The Queen?

We go from one extreme to another in the second with older horses slugging it out over 2m in the Two Circles Handicap (6.00).

The Queen’s staying filly Estimate won at our first Flat meeting of the season and Sign Manual has every chance of giving the monarch a second winner at Ascot this season.  The four-year-old by Motivator won at Newbury last time out, just getting up in the final yards to beat the good yardstick Lieutenant Miller, with Tappanappa in third, Cotton King in fourth and Gabrial’s Star in fifth.  There seems to be no reason why any of these beaten horses would reverse places today.

Sign Manual has gone up 8lb in the handicap for that effort, but looks an improving type now he is running over this longer trip. Homeric will be looking to give Highclere Thoroughbreds a quick double, and is trying this sort of trip for the first time though he is not bred to be suited by it.

Right at the bottom of the handicap, Andrew Balding looks to have found a good opportunity for Silver Samba. The filly by Dalakhani has not won since August last year, but that was the last time she ran over 2m and she is only 4lb above her winning mark then.

Drink a Toast To The Town

Some well-bred three-year-old fillies from some big-name owners contest the Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Maiden Fillies´ Stakes over 1m2f (6.30) and it looks wide open on paper.

A peak at the fillies in the paddock will give some indication as to the most forward, but of those who have run Sharqawiyah finished third last time out, while, in April, Toast of The Town finished seventh and Bohemain Dance eighth behind Banoffee, who won the Listed Chester Oaks and is being supplemented for the Epsom Oaks.

A Democratic Choice

Race fitness could be key to the 6f Royal Ascot Racing Club 15th Birthday Celebration Handicap (7.00) and last season’s progressive handicapper Nassau Storm might just be in need of a sharpener over this spring trip on his first start of the season.

Yeeoow was just touched off for fourth over this trip at Doncaster in April, but Democretes is the choice. He was slightly hampered in running at when second at Goodwood last time over 7f and this stiff 6f should really suit. Crew Cut wears blinkers for the first time and has attracted the services of top jock Jamie Spencer.

Regal Dan Looks Well in at the Weights

Just a head divided Professor and Pay Freeze in a nursery at Newbury last September off level weights before Regal Dan finished a length and a quarter ahead of Professor in April at Newbury when receiving 13lb from the Hannon horse. Regal Dan still has a 7lb sway at the weights and is selected to take advantage in the 7f Ascot Racecourse Handicap (7.40).

Hughie Morrison has a high opinion of Secret Talent and with his team in good form it will pay to take notice of the prices at the bookmakers.

Early Money for Aljmany

Although there are nine meetings in Britian and Ireland today, the springer in the early morning markets was the Luca Cumani-trained Ajmany in our last, the Race, Rattle ´N´ Roll Handicap (8.15).

The son of Kheleyf carries top weight, but sports first-time blinkers and was backed into 3-1, having been put in at 10-1 early doors. Keep an eye on the price and if the money keeps on coming, it’s probably wise not to buck the trend.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

#AscotAsks Marco Botti, Key Runners and Riders for #RoyalAscot

1. How do you spot a good horse from when it is very young and what would you advise to watch in a horse maturing through its racing career?
I tend to look at confirmation of the horse, looking at the horse as a whole picture also helps. Good pedigree, good confirmation and good attitude all help. Having an excellent attitude becomes more important later in the career, as they need to keep the love of racing.

2. Do you have a favourite distance that you most like to train your horses for and why?
No, a winner at any distance is great!

3. Is Frankel the greatest horse you've seen and do you ever think we will see one like him again?
There is no doubt he has been the greatest racehorse that I have seen in my lifetime, as to if there will be another Frankel – we can only hope, and I would hope even more that he or she would come out of my yard.

4. If you had a choice would you rather a place in all the classics or a win in just one in the season?
Just one classic would be FANTASTIC!

5. What is your best prospect for a Group 1 victory this year?
For a group one victory this year, I would have to say on Saturday’s performance, Dandino. We have some lovely “potentials” in the yard.

6. Is Planteur the best horse you have trained, or has there been one that’s better?
Excelebration, Planteur and Gitano Hernando would all be in the same “superstar” league.

7. What or who inspires you?
Henry Cecil, he is an amazing trainer who has a great eye for talent. Espressos also help me find inspiration – we drink copious amounts in the office!

8. What horse/s are you most excited about watching this season?
Dawn Approach - He was real class and looked fantastic at Newmarket, when winning so impressively in this years Guineas.

9. How did you get into a career as a racehorse trainer?
I have been around racing and racehorses all my life, my father, Alduino Botti is champion trainer in my native Italy. I worked for my father and was also Champion Amateur Jockey in Italy before moving to Britain, where I had spells with Luca Cumani, Ed Dunlop and Godolphin.

10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
We will hopefully have a good few runners at Royal Ascot this year; I would like to think that this year we will have our strongest team for Royal Ascot. If we had a winner, that would be the real icing on the cake. There is a great buzz around Prestige Place Stables in the run up to Royal Ascot week and it is great to be represented at the Royal Meeting.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

#AscotAsks Piers Attkinson, Millinery Trends for #RoyalAscot

1. What are the key trends and colours for this season?
In my collection the trends are ‘Hollywood Glamour’ and the colours are black, silver and dusty pink.

However in fashion today there is a sense of ‘anything goes’ so you have to follow your own instincts as far as what suits your own particular shape, age, colour and so on, but the fun thing about Ascot is working your own, individual style into the Ascot dress code. But if you want my personal advice I think that the trend for digital print is a great one to follow and it gives you lots of exciting elements to match to your hat, bag, shoes, binoculars, etc.

And remember; the neck is a very beautiful part of a woman so please pull your hair up and wear your hat into this! You will look amazing!

2. Can you suggest a way to look amazing with a limited budget?
One lovely trend is to see designer labels at reasonable prices in collaboration with the high-street – so that is one obvious way.

Another trick is to jazz up an old favourite with a new pair of shoes or (and here comes the plug) a HAT! But the most important way to look amazing is to feel confident about yourself, walk well, stand up straight and hold your head up!

3. What trends are you expecting to see at Royal Ascot this year?
I’d like to see more wide brims on the hats – and less of the ‘saucer’ shape. Think ‘My Fair Lady’!! But I expect to see a lot of colour as this is an area where confidence is growing.

4. How do I keep my hat in place and curtsey at the same time?
Great Question! You should have an elastic that goes round the back of your head on the smaller hats that sit on top of your head, the bigger ones shouldn't fall off if they fit properly, but you can always add in a small comb or sew in tiny loops to the inside of the hat and use hairgrips – but my honest suggestion is to practice your curtsey as the body should dip but the ladies head only bows forward a tiny bit while the back stays upright! (imagine you are wearing a corset).

5. What style of hat suits a bigger head and hair?
I always think that it is more the whole body shape rather than the actual head size. Shorter ladies will disappear under a huge brim, broad ladies look broader in a small percher hat – so look at your whole silhouette.

6. Is it best to match your hat to your dress or vice versa?
Most of my private clients ask me to match a hat to a dress they have, however one customer recently bought a hat and said she would go and find the dress to match! I would say that if either a hat or a dress grabs you then start with that and then go on a hunt for the rest of your outfit.

7. How important is millinery at Royal Ascot?
VERY important! I hadn't been until I was lucky enough to go on Ladies’ Day as a guest of Ascot a few years ago. I couldn't believe how many hats were there; everyone has a hat and you would feel so out of place if you were without one, although a hat is a dress requirement. I think that what might feel outrageous for a novice hat-wearer at home will suddenly feel perfect in the grounds. Some hats are wonderful, some are terrible, but that is half the fun; looking around and thinking ‘Yes!’ or ‘NO!’ but they are ALL wearing hats.

8. Where do you get inspiration for your designs from?
From everywhere, an exhibition, a conversation, lots from gardening and walks in nature. A lot from my sense of humour and a sense of ‘can I get away with this?!’ but also from the amazing women I meet. I think to myself ‘this would be amazing on Erin’ or ‘Lecia would LOVE this!’ and then I know I'm onto something.

9. How would you describe your style of hats?
Generally witty and fun, but I have made a lot of chic hats recently – does that mean I'm getting safe? I am very fussy about the line of a hat and how the hat and the trim work with each other and the human form. A hat should work with the body, not against it.

10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
Winning a huge bet!

For more information on Piers Atkinson visit his website, or for Royal Ascot visit

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Welcome to Day One of the Ascot Flat season 2013

Welcome to Day One of the Ascot Flat season 2013; we’ll have plenty of exciting racing ahead throughout the year and today’s free racing action gets us off to a superb start.

The feature race of today is the Longines Sagaro Stakes (3.30) over 2m in which The Queen’s Estimate, winner of last season’s Group 3 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot over course and distance, is due to make her seasonal reappearance. She rounded last season off with a good third in the Park Hill Stakes (G2), and with today’s 3lb weight for age claim, she should go close.

"She has wintered well, and we've always been hopeful about her making the progression from three to four," said John Warren, the Queen’s racing manager to the Racing Post.

"Hopefully we will find out at Ascot where we really stand in the big scheme of things. She is bred to be better this year, but it's not going to be easy taking on the colts. We're looking forward to seeing how she fares."

Askar Tau, a consistent type last year, has not run since his good third behind Rite Of Passage here in the Long Distance Cup at the Champions meeting, while Earth Amber is an interesting runner for Nicky Henderson, the new British NH champion trainer.  A French-bred she has had one run in Britain when second in April to the Testosterone, a former Group 1 runner-up, having previously finished second to a subsequent Group 1 winner Les Beaufs at Deauville last August.

Irish-based trainer Jessica Harrington sends over Steps To Freedom, third in the Alleged Stakes last month, and this trip to the UK won’t have been made in vain.

Typhoon blown in from Ireland
Typhoon Lily will have kept the Harrington runner company on the boat over from Ireland and runs in the mile Active Navigation EBF Stakes (2.30).

A well-bred filly, this is a step up for the daughter of Unbridled’s Song, but she ran really well when just beaten in an EBF race on the All-Weather at Dundalk last time, comes here fit from two winter outings and has the added assistance of champion jockey Richard Hughes.

Pearl Sea ran against some of the best two-year-old fillies of last season and put in a highly creditable performance when fifth in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes. She has an entry in the Coronation Stakes (G1) and if she has any chance of meeting that engagement she needs to perform with credit here.

Masarah has a similar profile – her best performance so far was when fifth behind Certify in the Fillies’ Mile (G1) – and is entered in all of the big fillies’ races through the early season, while the once-raced Chat also holds a Coronation Cup entry. Keep an ear out for the racecourse vibes concerning this unexposed runner.

Fencing to take the Paradise
Stipulate, Sovereign Debt, Don’t Call Me, and Boom And Bust are all closely matched on the book for The Listed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Paradise Stakes (3.00), but the four-year-old son of Street Cry Fencing is taken to come into his own this year.

He was lightly raced last year, but he was highly enough regarded to be tried in the 2,000 Guineas in which he ran without disgrace to finish sixth. He followed that up with a third in the Dante Stakes (G2) and, after a disappointing effort in the St James’s Palace (G1), he finished fourth after a mid-season break behind Fulbright in the Dubai Challenge Stakes (G2). He might be in need of the outing here against race-hardened individuals, but he may also just possesses that extra bit of class to make difference.

Three-year-old lock horns in the Pavilion Stakes
The 6f Listed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Pavilion Stakes (4.10) sees the three-year-olds do battle over a sprint trip.  All of these bar Snow King had plenty of outings as two-year-olds with the colt Ahern posting the best form in the book when third in the 6f Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, although his season ended abruptly after a subsequent poor effort in the Gimcrack Stakes (G2) in August.

Liberating for Jessica Harrington drops back a furlong after a promising effort in a 1,000 Guineas Trial and earlier in April in the Listed Patton Stakes when behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gale Force Ten, however the in-form Zanetto is likely to be sent off race favourite after his Tattersalls Millions success at Newmarket in April.

The Andrew Balding-trained son of Medicean has Group race form in the book when second last season in the 6f Sirenia Stakes (G3) at Kempton with Hasopop, Pearl Acclaim and Intibaah all well beaten behind him.

Don’t dismiss the chances of Mick Channon’s filly Sandreamer, who finished second to Maureen, a 14-1 chance for this weekend’s 1,000 Guineas, in the Princess Margaret Stakes (G3) here last July.

Rock along to the conclusion 
Rockalong is an improving sort and Luca Cumani looks to have found a suitable opening for the son of Rock Of Gibraltar in the closing mile Redcentric Handicap (4.45), while the opening 5f Aldermore Conditions Stakes (2.00) looks to be a battle between Anticipated from the Richard Hannon yard and Justice Day trained by David Elsworth.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Master Milliner Stephen Jones

Yesterday we caught up with the master milliner, Stephen Jones, at Coworth Park for a quick chat about key trends for Spring/Summer 2013 and of course, the highlight of the millinery calendar... Royal Ascot.

World-renowned milliner, Stephen Jones, is curator of the Headonism initiative, which with the support of the British Fashion Council and sponsored by Royal Ascot, showcases a selection of the newest and most exciting millinery talent. Expectations are high with the summer social season just around the corner and an array of exciting fashions and millinery on offer!

You started your career by studying fashion design at Central St Martins - how did you end up working with hats?
I was a tailoring intern as I wanted to improve my sewing skills and was then transferred to the millinery workroom.

How would you describe your style of hats?
‘Elegant humour’

What materials and techniques do you favor?
The most classic material such as, pure white cotton, perfect black velvet and lustrous pink satin, or Day-Glo plastic.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
By everyday life.... but in particular, architecture

What are your top tips for Spring/Summer 2013 style?
The Duchess of Cambridge is still a front-runner on this front, but I expect a softening of her signature chic.

What are your key colours/designs for this Spring/Summer?
A lot of soft grey, blue and white, spiced with hot pink and vivid turquoise.

Is it best to match your hat to your dress or vice versa?
It’s best to match your hat with your face and then your clothes will follow on from that.

Should the hat be the focal point of the outfit?
No, the hat shouldn’t be the focal point of the outfit. The hat is merely a frame but it can be a conversation point too.

As curator of Headonism, how does it feel to be an ambassador for millinery?
It’s a tremendous honour and I am delighted to be able to mentor and ease the path of young British millinery talent.

Do you have a favourite type of hat?
Yes, a Top Hat or developments of a Top Hat because it always adds sex appeal, whether the wearer is male or female.

How important is millinery to Royal Ascot and British culture?
Together with the attendance of The Royal Family of course and the wonderful horses it is millinery and fashion that make Royal Ascot one of the most special events in the world.

A selection of Stephen Jones' designs can be found on our Royal Ascot Style Guide video.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Countryside Raceday, Racing Action Preview

After the excitement of the Grand National at Aintree yesterday, the racing action does not stop with a fine family raceday card here today.

Courtesy gets the Call in the opener
We open with the Colts and Fillies Club Maiden Hurdle (2.15) over 2m3f and the highest-rated horse in the field Village Vic is likely to be sent off favourite. The Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old has put in some good efforts in better races than this, however he does not have “winning ways” about him and could be worth opposing with the unexposed Courtesy Call from the Nicky Henderson yard. He has had just one run over hurdles in February at Kempton over an inadequate 2m trip and as a winner off a BHA official rating of 81 on the Flat and over 2m he should be suited by this extra 3f and better ground.

Molotof can explode
We go chasing in the A.P. Security Novices’ Chase (2.50), the second race on today’s card, and it should be an easy opportunity for Molotof, a Grade 2-winning hurdler here in 2011, to put his head back in front after a down-the-field run at Cheltenham.

A novice chase winner at Warwick over 2m3f in February (a little reluctant to jump off), he was a good fourth to this week’s John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase winner Dynaste at Kempton before Christmas.  Molotof does have a welter-weight to shoulder here and if he has any shortcomings Kingsmere could be the one to take advantage. His form figures do not read too well, but he has been crying out for a sounder surface and could bounce back.

Go Dutch in the Juvenile Hurdle
Many of the runners in the Huge Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (3.25) are shouldering winners’ penalties and Little Dutch Girl does not escape having won by 17l at Taunton last time out, but as she is just a four-year-old and is filly she gets age and sex allowances and can make the most of that advantage.

Little Dutch Girl, Aazif and Calculated Risk all met at Doncaster in February with the three finishing in reverse order with just 7l between them. Calculated Risk, the John Quinn-trained winner, now has a stone more to carry than the Henderson filly which could be a deciding factor.

Another to take a look at is Kauto D’Aloes, who is out of a sister to the wonderful Kauto Star and has twice finished third on his two starts in Britain. This is his first run against his own age group and on better ground.

Turn to Grey for the BMW Chase
There will be plenty of pace on in the 2m BMW Novices’ Chase (4.00) with Ballygarvey, Kapga De Cerisy and Conquisto all habitual front-runners. If all run as expected, this testing track could set the race up for the improving six-year-old Greywell Boy, who stays well, can sit in and will still be galloping home at the end. Trainer Nick Williams selected this race as a target for the horse after a  last-time-out victory at Sandown.
Veteran Garleton still going strong

At the other end of the age spectrum Garleton is still putting in big efforts as a 12-year-old and he should make the journey south worthwhile for his Cumbria-based yard in the A.P. Security Veterans’ Chase (4.40).
The Maurice Burns-trained son of Anshan was last seen when a head second off a BHA mark of 142 in a 2m6f Listed chase at Kelso at the beginning of March with none other than yesterday’s Grand National winner Auroras Encore well back in fifth.

Garleton has only had two runs this season and comes here a fresher horse than Tullamore Dew, Fruity O’ Rooney and Monkerty Tunkerty, who finished fourth, fifth and seventh in the JLT Specialty Chase at the Festival, a race that may just have left its mark.

Top weight Hold On Julio will need to brush up his error-prone jumping if he is to feature.

Wings can Promise again
Promised Wings, sporting first-time blinkers, can follow up his last-time out success in the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (5.10) for the Chris Gordon yard, while Creevytennant is unopposable in the finale, the Fleming Family & Partners Hunter’s Chase (5.45). He ran well for a long way in the Foxhunter Chase at The Festival, and a return to a right-handed track and better ground will suit.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Restaurant Full Of Racing Knowledge


For five exciting days in June, Ascot Racecourse is not only filled with hats and fashion but also the most talented thoroughbreds, with the finest horses in the world competing at the very highest level to be in with a chance of making it into the Royal Ascot winners enclosure - every racehorse owners dream.

A new theme is being introduced to the Bessborough Restaurant this year, as it is transformed into the ideal venue for racing enthusiasts and novices alike.  This unique restaurant will feature an iconic racing panel with special guests, who will give racegoers the inside track to the runners and riders, betting and all things Royal Ascot.

The panel includes the colourful John Francome -  once a champion jockey, now author and TV presenter, William Buick, top jockey and winner of 5 races at Royal Ascot in 2012, premier league footballer and racing enthusiast Michael Owen and finally top trainers, Ed Dunlop, Richard Hannon Jnr. and Andrew Balding.

The Bessborough Racing Panel: 
Tuesday:  John Francome, William Buick and Michael Owen
Wednesday:  John Francome, William Buick and Ed Dunlop
Thursday:  John Francome, William Buick and Michael Owen 
Friday:  John Francome, William Buick and Richard Hannon Jnr 
Saturday:  John Francome, William Buick and Andrew Balding 

John Francome, says “This is the best flat race meeting in the world at the best venue in the country and I’m looking forward to hosting the Bessborough Racing Panel with such a strong line-up of racing enthusiasts.” 

Michael Owen, commented, “Horse racing is a huge passion of mine and to be asked to be on the Bessborough Restaurant Racing Panel during Royal Ascot alongside the racing legend John Francome and top jockey William Buick will be a really fun day out for me, I just hope some of my tips will come in!” 

Guests will start the day with some delicious canapés and a glass of Piper Heidsieck Champagne or a cocktail before sitting down to mark their card with the words of wisdom from the panel. 

They can then enjoy a delicious four course luncheon of Loin of Cold Smoked and Cured Salmon on a bed of Cucumber Linguine, Pickled Samphire and Ocean Pearls with a Lobster Vinaigrette, followed by  Roasted Fillet of Angus Beef with a Beaufort and Lemon Thyme Crust and a delicious dessert of Dark Chocolate Fleur de Sel with Salt Caramel and Wild Strawberry Dressing. Luncheon will be completed with some great British Cheeses including the award winning Sussex Charmer Mature Cheddar, before watching the Royal Procession from the private balcony which heralds the start of some world class racing action. 

Between the third and fourth race guests will also enjoy a traditional British afternoon tea.

Fine dining experiences in the Bessborough Restaurant start at £570 (inclusive of VAT) per person and are now on sale.  To find out more information or to make a booking please visit, call the Hospitality Team on 0844 346 0346 or email:

Friday, 15 February 2013

Royal Ascot Partners With The British Fashion Council And Stephen Jones To Announce Exciting New Line Up Of Milliners For Headonism 2013

Royal Ascot is once again working with the British Fashion Council on the Headonism initiative which supports and showcases a selection of the newest and most exciting millinery talent at this February’s London Fashion Week.

Curated by world-renowned milliner Stephen Jones, Headonism is a BFC initiative celebrating the new wave of emerging British based hatters. The talents who have been invited to show at Headonism and Royal Ascot are Piers Atkinson, William Chambers, Moody and Farrell, Emma Yeo and Aurora.

Stephen Jones says of the talent this season, 

“I am thrilled to welcome our new milliners to Headonism 2013.  They bring a new flair and excitement to our wonderful London designers: Piers Atkinson and William Chambers. Aurora Ozman brings tactile glamour to hats and headdresses, Emma Yeo creations are exquisitely sculptural, whilst Eloise Moody of Moody Farrell personifies the energy, style and wit of young London.”

As part of the ongoing partnership, Royal Ascot will also host a Headonism installation during Europe’s premier race meeting to an audience of race goers from around the world. 

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, comments:

“We are delighted to continue to partner with Royal Ascot to support the BFC’s Headonism initiative. The Royal Meeting at Ascot is watched by the world and Headonism is the perfect platform to generate interest and promote Britain’s emerging milliners to a wider audience.”

Chief Executive at Ascot Racecourse, Charles Barnett, said:

“We are very excited to once again be working with the British Fashion Council and Stephen Jones to support a new generation of milliners. Fashion is always high on the agenda at Royal Ascot and Headonism is an initiative, which directly supports some of the inspired designs that we see at the Racecourse.”

Headonism provides an exciting platform for British based milliners to promote their work. Piers Atkinson acknowledges the value the initiative will bring to all five milliners:

“I am so pleased to be part of Headonism this season, crafted millinery is very niche, so to have the support of the BFC and Royal Ascot to showcase our work is a crucial first step to becoming a player on the international stage. The BFC work with ultra-milliner Stephen Jones so to have the ‘seal of approval’ from both the BFC and Stephen Jones is the most incredibly supportive launching pad one could imagine.”

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