If you’ve never been to Ascot before, here’s a short guide to help you come out on top:
1. It’s not as expensive as you might think. Tickets this year for the Windsor Enclosure were only £32 each.
2. You can book a parking spot in advance if you’re organised, but if you’ve left it to the last minute, like we did, don’t worry. Parking is plentiful for the race grounds, but be prepared to part with £40 cash on your way into the carpark.
3. You don’t HAVE to wear a top hat and tails or a crazy fascinator made from pipe cleaners and bird feathers. Although it is definitely more fun to get dressed up in your finest as everyone else does, and it is expected that people are smart.
4. There are plenty of food outlets and bars to choose from, but it’s much more fun and cost effective to bring a picnic. Only bring along plastic glasses and cutlery though as any metal cutlery will be confiscated. To be honest you could probably do more harm with some of the fascinators than a metal spoon, but rules are rules!
5. Make sure you only bring screw top bottles or champagne/prosecco as you arn’t allowed to bring in bottle openers either, for security reasons. You’d think that the most common noise at the races is the thunder of hooves, but it isn’t. It’s the sound of corks popping.
6. You can bring along blankets or fold up chairs to sit on, but you can generally manage to snare a table and chairs to sit round if you get there early enough.
7. The royal procession (this year) was at 2pm, with the first race of the day starting at 2.30pm. Make sure you start your journey to Windsor with PLENTY of time though. Even if your sat nav tells you it’s only going to take an hour to get there, you need to add on another hour just to negotiate the traffic at Ascot
8. When it comes to betting, you can study the form of the horses, but if like me, you’re just there to soak up the atmosphere and have some fun, just pick a name of a horse you like and bet on that one. You never know!
9. When it comes to having a flutter, the totes are everywhere, just to make it nice and easy for you to hand over your hard earned cash. You can put your money on a horse ‘to win’, in which case it has to come in first place; or you can bet ‘each way’ where the horse must be ‘placed’ – (finish in the first two, three or four, depending on how many runners there are in the race). ‘Each Way’ is twice the cost, as you are placing one bet on the horse to win and another bet on the horse to be placed.
10. Give yourself a limit per race (or overall) and stick to it. Don’t get over-confident as that’s when it all goes pear shaped! The minimum amount you can bet is £2 on a race, and there are 6 races each day, so you don’t have to put your life savings on one race!
11. One thing that I always worry about at big events are the toilets, but be safe in the knowledge that there are lots of them, they are clean and they have plenty of loo roll. Hurrah!
12. It’s worth getting to the side of the racetrack at about 1.40 if you want a good view of the Royals as they parade past. Otherwise, like me you’ll get lots of really nice pictures of people’s hands waving at them. Which reminds me, one of the most popular bets to place is what colour the Queen is going to be wearing.
13. Believe it or not, it’s really easy to go to Ascot and not see one single race as the atmosphere in the enclosures is great fun, but it’s definitely worthwhile to venture down to the track, just to experience the pounding of the hooves and magnificence of such beautiful horses.
Things to bring
Prosecco (one bottle per person)
Blanket/chairs (in case there are none available)
Flat shoes/plasters (for when your heels start to kill your feet ladies)
Some warm clothes in case the weather turns
Some good company