Ascot is a town in Berkshire, about 30 miles west of Central London. It is only a few miles from the royal town of Windsor. As for much of this part of the world, Ascot is an expensive place to live in terms of property prices and rents.
Essentially, Ascot is known just for Horse Racing and in particular the Royal Ascot meeting in June of each year.
Ascot Racecourse stages both Flat and National Hunt Racing on turf.
The flat racing circuit is right-handed and triangular in shape. It is both galloping and stiff in nature, with a few undulations. It is about a mile and three quarters in total, with two and a half furlong. There is also a straight mile course on which all races up to seven furlongs are run. Races over one mile are run both straight and round.
The jumps circuit is also right-handed, galloping and with stiff fences. The total circuit is a mile and five furlongs with two jumps in the home straight. This course favours those ridden prominently.
There are a lot of prestigious races run at Ascot both on the Flat and over jumps and not just limited to Royal Ascot.
Clerk of the course: Chris Stickels
Course telephone number: 01344 878502
Full address: Ascot Racecourse, High Street Ascot, Berks, SL5 7JX
Ascot is 31 miles from Central London, 116 miles from Birmingham, 125 miles from Cardiff, 198 miles from Manchester and 404 miles from Edinburgh.
As the address suggests, the course is on the main route through Ascot and is walking distance from everywhere in the town. The nearest motorway junctions are M4(J6); and M3(J3).
The course post code is SL5 7JX.
Course parking is free and there is lots of it spread over more than one park.
The nearest railway station is Ascot Station which is roughly quarter of a mile away.
I have to say that Ascot is a truly magnificent venue. It is considerably bigger than most other racecourses in this country and is laid out and organised very well indeed. The dress code here tends to be strict, particularly for the Royal Meeting in June. The course website states that gentlemen need not wear a tie for jumps meetings (but see below).
There are two enclosures, namely The King Edward VII Enclosure (top floor) and The Queen Anne Enclosure. There is also The Windsor Enclosure (no dress code) which operates during Royal Ascot. The King Edward VII Enclosure is not available to the general public during the Royal Meeting.
Prices vary from meeting to meeting as is the case on most racecourses. To their credit, Ascot allowed entry into The Queen Anne for free today and charged £18 for The King Edward VII Enclosure. I elected for the latter as I had never been in there before. It was worth it just for the stunning view over the racecourse.
Most of the food and drink is in The Queen Anne area and there is just too much to list it all here. Whatever food you want is there. There are restaurants too which I gather are very expensive though maybe at a lesser meeting they may be more reasonably priced. There is also a shopping area along the middle of the Queen Anne Enclosure.
The area behind the stands is quite spacious and included the parade ring and winners enclosure and the bandstand.
A fairly annoying start to the day.
I checked the website for dress code requirements and it was clear that a tie was NOT required for Jumps meetings. In fact a jacket an collared shirt wasn’t compulsory either though for my own convenience this is how I normally dress when I go racing anyway. So I arrived at the entrance and asked for entry to The King Edward VII Enclosure. The lady selling the tickets pointed out that I wasn’t wearing a tie. I reminded her what the website said and she replied that they prefer a tie. At this point, I told her that I had just spent three hours driving to attend today and said I best speak with her supervisor to clarify. At this point she agreed it wasn’t essential but could I please wear one in future. I couldn’t be bothered to argue and headed in.
As I walked towards the stands, I reflected that every other time I had been here, I had seen fights (between blokes dressed up in suits etc) and wondered if perhaps the course shouldn’t worry more about that. Not to be disappointed, as I strolled into the enclosure, five minutes after coming in, there before me were four lads scrapping (wearing ties of course).
I don’t mind standards and I will always abide by them, as I did today. When I finally went upstairs to The King Edward VII Enclosure, I couldn’t help notice how well dressed I appeared to be compared to other. I don’t really care what people wear, it’s behaviour is the thing for me. So long as people are well behaved then I’m not bothered. But what was she on about at the gate??
But as I said above, this is a fantastic venue overall and the standard of food I ate here was very good and the staff were generally very personable. As with one or two other courses, there is a tremendous sense of history here too.
Anyway, most importantly I had a few bets and sadly lost a small few quid. Not that I can complain really, I’ve been on a nice run of winning, on racecourses at least.
The first race was a Class 3 Novice Chase over just under 2m 3f. I was delighted to get evens the night before about Wenyerreadyfreddie trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville. His season started in early October with a 2nd to decent prospect Lil Rockerfeller at Uttoxeter, beaten just a length and a half. He backed that up with an easy 18 length beating of Caid du Lin and a few other well regarded sorts in a Novices Handicap over todays course and distance three weeks ago. I didn’t think that todays field was anything better than those he had beaten before. He duly won today (returned 4/6F) but not without making life hard for himself by jumping markedly left at many of his fences.
I was quite keen on the chance of the Olly Murphy trained Thomas Darby in the “Introductory” Hurdle over 2 miles. He had won his bumper at Huntingdon well enough back in May and was impressive in winning a Maiden Hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of last month. This was a hotter race though and in particular the Nick Gifford trained Didtheyleaveuoutto would be no pushover and was his main market rival. His introduction to hurdling was at Fakenham where travelling strongly throughout the race, he picked up the leader when asked and won cosily by a neck. This is one of the best finishes I have seen this season with the two battling from the last with Didtheyleaveuoutto prevailing in the last 100 yards to win by a head.
I watched a couple more and then headed away before the last to try and beat some traffic, even though I’d had a bet last night on the Nick Williams trained Flying Tiger. He was back from a couple of attempts over fences (jumped badly last time) in this Class 2 Handicap Hurdle. Although he hadn’t won for a while, this chap had a t times kept very good company over hurdles and I had a small bet each way on him under the champion jockey, Richard Johnson. It didn’t get me far though. I see from the race reports that he only got as far as the 4th when badly hampered, he parted company with the Jockey. It happens!!
So that’s eleven meetings so far in November and that’s probably it until December!