There are a select few events in the calendar year that stand out for horse racing fans above all others. One of these is, of course, the Royal Ascot, a five-day extravaganza of pomp and pageantry that takes place each June at the legendary racecourse in Berkshire.
You probably already know that Royal Ascot is an absolute mainstay on the social calendar of the royal court, with Queen Elizabeth II and her closest family, friends, and fellow monarchs all making an appearance to cheer on their favourite horse.
However, given the many centuries that this prestigious event has been in place, there are probably a few things that you don’t know. With that in mind, here are some of the most fascinating Royal Ascot facts that you may not already know.
1. Mundane Origins
Although Ascot has always been royal in origin, it has not always been such a high-profile affair. In fact, when the race grounds were first opened in 1711 by Queen Anne, it was so that she could have somewhere quiet and isolated for her many horses to “to gallop at full stretch”.
2. Sky-High Prizes
By any measure, Royal Ascot is the most lucrative event for racers in the whole of British racing. Almost every single year for the past decade, the prize money has hit a new record. In 2021, the total prize pot reached an all-time-high of more than £6 million.
3. No Socks, No Service
Everyone knows about Ascot’s strict dress code, which includes rules on what kind of formal hats you can wear in certain enclosures. However, less well known is the latest dress code rule introduced in 2018, which stipulates that anyone not wearing socks shall be refused entry.
4. Betting is Big Business
Much like any horse racing sport, Royal Ascot attracts no shortage of punters, with more than £130 million estimated to have been wagered over five days. Unsurprisingly, the top horse racing betting sportsbooks have a constant stream of Royal Ascot content, covering all of the odds and gossip for the 12 months running up to the big event.
5. Foodie Fun
Given that Ascot is essentially a five-day celebration of refined excess, it should come as no surprise that the food consumption is sumptuous, to say the least. Last year, 300,000 attendees quaffed 56,000 bottles of champagne and 44,000 bottles of wine, as well as gorging on 60,000 sandwiches, 5000 Angus steaks, 8000 Cornish crabs, and 3500 fresh lobsters.
6. The Inner Sanctum
You may already know that the royal enclosures, where the Queen and the crème de la crème of society hang out, are the places to see and be seen. What you might not know is exactly what it takes for a mere mortal to gain access to the inner sanctum. For this, you will need written sponsorship from two other attendees to the Royal enclosure, both of whom must have also attended for the past four years.
As the eccentricities and excitement of Ascot continue to unfold with each passing year, we are sure that we will have more fun facts to add to this list in the future.