Travel Notebook

Inside the Royal Ascot

Yet another reason I adore my native Britain: the Royal Ascot. It’s such a beloved tradition and the very epitome of sartorial elegance. This year, my brother-in-law has secured car park space number 1 in the coveted Royal Enclosure – quite a coup! If you are attending the race yourself, or sending clients, here are a few tips and tricks for enjoying this most treasured of horse races.

A bit of background, if you’re new to the Royal Ascot – this is Britain’s most valuable race meeting, during which many of the world’s finest racehorses compete for millions in prize money. The Queen has attended every Royal Meeting during her reign and each race day throughout the week begins with her iconic Royal Procession. Perhaps just as important as the races themselves, the socializing that takes place throughout these five days is a spectacle of fashion and style. This year’s event runs from Tuesday, June 20th, to Saturday, June 24th.

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What to Wear: The Royal Ascot might as well be thought of as a major fashion event in its own right. This year, the jumpsuit has been officially welcomed as acceptable attire in the Royal Enclosure – this harkens back to the introduction of the trouser suit in 1971 and the habit of recognizing the latest fashions of the day. For examples of what you might emulate in your own wardrobe choices, see the Royal Ascot style guide. Ladies, for the Royal Enclosure, think colorful and stylish hats, modest-length dresses and skirts and a jacket or pashmina. Gentlemen, black or gray morning dress must include a waistcoat and tie, black or gray top hat and black shoes. Other Enclosures have a slightly less formal, yet still smart dress code.

Where to Eat: There are 12 restaurants offering fine dining choices at the Royal Meeting, featuring Michelin-starred chefs and à la carte menus designed by Ascot’s award-winning team, all paired with the finest Champagnes and wines. There’s even a unique cheese from Somerset that has been specially created for this year’s event. Dining is available in box seating, with a minimum group size of ten. Sit-down meals can be arranged for 12 guests and the maximum is 18, for a buffet.

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Where to Hang Out: If you’re so fortunate, you’ve secured a space in one of the Enclosures. Each has its own individual character and puts you in the heart of the racing action. At the heart of the Royal Ascot is the Royal Enclosure – the very place to be in the center of the British social season. This space was originally set aside for the Gold Cup in 1807 and reserved for the family, guests and Household of King George III. Membership continues to be by invitation only. Within the Royal Enclosure, guests have access to idyllic gardens leading to the Pre-Parade Ring and access to the fourth-floor seated balcony of the Grandstand and viewing lawns that overlook the Winning Post. The Queen Anne Enclosure and the new Village Enclosure offer exclusive hospitality experiences and uphold a dress code, but are less formal than the Royal Enclosure.

Don’t Forget: An umbrella, a coat and comfortable footwear. This is England and the weather can be inconsistent, and chilly. As for your feet, you’ll be on them more than you think, so comfortable (yet stylish) footwear is a must.

What to Talk About: There’s much ado about “The Going,” which describes the ground conditions as experienced by the horses. If you can speak knowledgeably about this more technical aspect of the race, you’ll be widely respected in your circle of racegoers. A week prior to the race, The Going is officially announced and may be heavy, soft, good to soft, good, good to firm and firm and hard.

Armed with your insider tips, enjoy the meeting!