Royal Ascot is the ultimate flat racing event. Taking part in June each year it attracts horse racing fans from all over the world to the Ascot race course. Royal Ascot is one of those horse racing festivals that crosses the divide between only being of interest to pure horse racing fans and the general public at large. With the champagne flowing and hearts beating fast, Royal Ascot can be a test of endurance for the spectator as well as the horse. Despite the excitement that Royal Ascot brings, the tradition of Ascot itself has changed over the years. These days, it seems to be the conclusion of the Parade of Nations, the ultimate networking event for horse racing.
In the early years of the 17th century, racing at Royal Ascot was only open to members of the royal family to witness the pomp and ceremony of the day ‘The Chase.’ These days, Ascot itself seems to be on the decline as the focus turns to the wider fan experience that the races bring. The grass, the smell of the 4-day old hay, the cheering crowds and the constraints of time all participate to make these races unique. Winning Royal Ascot is no longer considered the pinnacle of achievement for the horse racing world and is considered the least prestigious of the major races. While this may open up opportunities for other racing festivals, I for one feel that Royal Ascot has stood the test of time. It’s not the event for the beginner or the casual horse racing fan. Yet it has its place in the world of racing. It brings real money to the sport and can be a great marketing tool for Pari-Site resorts. Of key importance to the future of Royal Ascot is the cultivation of a commission-based fan base of horse racing enthusiasts.
This past June, racing fans gathered in the beautiful Berkshire village of Ascot to see some of the royalty fly straight down Mount Evans to the start of the 8 a.m. starts.
Ascot is a 150-year-old race course that stretches across 1.5 miles and is used primarily for the British Racing Series equestrian events. It is also home to several other races including the Royal Ascot Holiday Stakes, Royal Ascot Tiny Dancer, and the Berkshire Shield Cup. Worldwide, Royal Ascot attracts seven million horses and attracts 250,000 visitors every year, but the sheer volume can be overwhelming for a mere 1.5-mile stretch. From a spectator’s perspective Royal Ascot is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who has attended has come to realise that as far as racing culture is concerned, Royal Ascot isn’t really a race, it’s a show. As a spectator, it’s easy to get sucked into the spectacle of the horses swirling around the course and often end up jumping into bets they should not be. But is this simply down to being an attendee of a horse racing event, or will there be lessons that can be taken away from past successes and failures?