Ascot is a small town that lies 30 km west of London. Ascot is famous for its race course. Races take place there twelve months a year because it almost never snows there.
Horse races have taken place at Ascot since the 18th century. It is perhaps the most famous race track in the British Isles. There are flat races at Ascot and there are steeplechases (i.e. with jumps).
Horses line up at the start. They are said to be ‘under starter’s orders.’ Then a gun is fired to indicate the start of the race. This is because the report of a gun is so loud that no one can doubt whether they heard it or not. If it was a word shouted then someone might not hear it or mistake another word for the word that signals the start. The horses are behind a rope under the gun goes off – then the rope is dropped.
The race course is about 5 km long. It only takes the horses a few minutes to finish the race. There are roughly 30 horses in each race. If there are jumps then a few riders fall off. A horse has to have a rider on its back to win! Sometimes the jockey falls off the the horse keeps on running dutifully over the finish line. This does not count.
There is a winning post – a poll beside the finish line. This makes it clear from a distance if someone won or not. Sometimes a horse clearly wins. It can be said to have won by a length if it was 2 m or more in front of the next horse. The length of a horse is roughly 2 metres long. A horse might win by more like win by two lengths or three lengths etc… Sometimes the horses are neck and neck at the finish line – very close together. This is a photo finish. It is hard to tell who won. They have to look at photos of the finish to see who crossed the line first.
Until the 20th century cameras were not good enough to tell who won when the race was very close. Sometimes a ‘dead heat’ was declared. That means that two horses were said to have crossed at the same time and both were considered winners.
There are stewards who are in charge of the race. They investigate any misconduct by jockeys. Over use of the whip is not allowed.
In the middle of June there is a period of five days called ‘Royal Ascot.’ At Ascot Race Ground there are three levels of spectating. The most exclusive is ‘Ascot Royal Enclosure.’ It is called ‘Royal’ Ascot because Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family attend.
To get into Ascot Royal Enclosure you must be invited by a member of the enclosure. A member is someone who has been there at least four times. He or she can invite one new person per day. Royal Ascot runs from a Tuesday to a Saturday inclusive. So let’s imagine Philomena was a member of the Royal Enclosure. She could invite Phyllis on Tuesday, Susan on Wednesday, Phyllis again on Thursday, then she invites Michael on Friday and lastly she invited Serena on Saturday. Or you could invite the same person all five days. If you are a member of the Royal Enclosure you do not have to invite anyone.
You can write to your embassy or high commission. Each diplomatic mission has a number of invitations it can issue each year. They can get you into the Royal Enclosure if you ask on time. You should apply several months in advance. Remember if you go for 7 years you become a member of the Royal Enclosure and can start inviting people yourself. You must be over the age of 15 to go. You can go for all 5 days in Royal Ascot Week or 4, 3, 2 or just one day – as you wish.
To get into the Royal Enclosure you must dress appropriately. Men must wear morning dress. This means a black or grey tailcoat. They must wear black or grey trousers – usually striped. He must wear a top hat – black or grey. He must wear a collared shirt. Most men wear ties some wear a stock which is like a tie. They must wear black shoes – they can be laceup or slip on.
Ladies have to wear a dress to get in. A lady must also wear a hat which covers the crown of the head. Ladies really go to town wearing fantastically creative and crazy hats. They have fascinators which keep the hat on her head. Ladies invariably wear high heels.
You will receive a badge with your name on it a week before Royal Ascot. You must wear it to get into the Royal Enclosure. That is your ID! They will not ask you for a passport. The security guards will simply see the badge and nod you in.
The gates open at about 12 noon. The first race is not till about 2 o’clock. Plenty of people get there well before 2 o ‘clock. There are 6 or 7 races a day. A race lasts roughly ten minutes. There is about twenty minutes between each race. The last race is around six o’clock. People often stay for hours after that to socialise.
There are paparazzi photographing famous people on their way into the Royal Enclosure. These celebrities are princes, princesses, models, actresses, politicians and billionaires.
People are not allowed to use mobile phones inside Ascot Royal Enclosure. You are not allowed to take photos, film or record sound inside the Royal Enclosure. You may bring phones with you but they must be switched off. There are many VIPs there and they want to be able to relax and have fun without being photographed and filmed.
You are not allowed to make a phone call, look at texts or use the internet. You are there to watch horse racing and to socialise. You are not there to use a phone! Many people comment that it is so refreshing to go just one afternoon a year without using a phone. If you need to make a call you can go out of the Royal Enclosure and make that call then come back in. You can go out and come back – go out and come back as many times as you want.
People watch racing. They lay bets. They eat and drink. There are bookmakers there, bars and restaurants. You do not have to lay any bets. Most people ‘have a flutter’ which means that they bet some money just for fun even if they know little about horse racing.
The Royal Enclosure is about 1 km long and 1 km wide. There are several thousand people there.
There is also the Golden Circle. You do not have to be invited to get into the Golden Circle. You simply have to buy a ticket. This is like the Royal Enclosure but there is no dress code and no rule against cameras or phones. If you have a badge for the Royal Enclosure you can go into the Golden Circle. People with a golden Circle ticket are NOT allowed into the Royal Enclosure. Although there is no rule about what to wear in the Golden Circle in practice most people dress formally – morning dress for men and dresses with hats for ladies. The food and drink is cheaper there.
Then there is the Silver Ring. This is like the Golden Circle but cheaper. There is no rule against phones or cameras here. There is no dress code and people wear whatever. You just need to buy a ticket to get in. People with Royal Enclosure badge can go into the Silver Ring. People with a Silver Ring ticket cannot go into the Golden Circle or the Royal Enclosure.
- Which country is Ascot in?
- When did horse racing start in Ascot?
- What is a steeplechase?
- What does it mean to be ‘under starter’s orders’?
- Why does a gun go off at the start of the race?
- How long is the race course?
- What is the dress code for men in the Royal Enclosure?
- What is the dress code for women?
- Which month does ‘Royal Ascot’ take place?
- What is a photo finish?
- What is a dead heat?
- How many days does Royal Ascot take place for?
- How do you get a badge for the Royal Enclosure?
- Are you allowed to use a phone in the Royal Enclosure?
- Is it ok to take photos in the Royal Enclosure?
- What does it mean ‘to have a flutter’?
- What is the Golden Circle?
- What is the ‘Silver Ring’?
- If you have a badge for the Royal Enclosure are you allowed into the Golden Circle?
- If you have a ticket for the Golden Circle are you allowed into the Royal Enclosure?
- If you have a ticket for the Silver Ring are you allowed into the Golden Circle?
- What is the dress code for the Golden Circle?
- Are you allowed to use a camera in the Silver Ring?
- What is the minimum age to get in to the Royal Enclosure?
- Can embassies invite people?
- Would you like to go? Why or why not? Five marks.