2018 events at Ascot, Windsor and Newbury
PUBLISHED: 14:58 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:58 08 January 2018
© Maureen McLean. All Rights Reserved
The racing year at Berkshire's track trio of Windsor, Ascot and Newbury provides sporting entertainment and great hospitality
While summer’s five-day Royal Ascot meeting will be the big event, attracting some 300,000 people, it’s worth remembering that this course hosts more than a third of Britain’s Group 1 (top class) races, and that racing takes place throughout the year, from jumping in winter to a great flat season.
Get out in the fresh air as early as 20 January with the Clarence House Chase Raceday, and on 17 February join some of the experts casting eyes over runners on the Betfair Ascot Chase Day. This prestigious meeting often provides final outings for top prospects prior to the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Spring Family Raceday on Sunday, 25 March provides the final jumps meeting, a mix of hurdles and chases, but there’s an additional fun side for young racegoers as the course is divided into zones with attractions and activities for children, including a petting zoo and pony rides.
The first flat meeting, on Wednesday, 2 May, features one of trial races for The Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Then on Friday, 11 we have Ascot’s only evening meeting with tribute bands playing music from the 1950s to 1970s, and on Saturday, 12 it’s Victoria Cup Day.
The spectacle of Royal Ascot takes place over five days from Tuesday, 19 June. Glamour, glitz, the Royal procession each day, this one has it all – including of course some of the world’s best horses, jockeys and trainers in competition for big prizes and treasured trophies.
The Summer Mile Racing Weekend is held on Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14 July, and is followed that month by The King George VI Weekend from the 27th, including the feature race, The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO).
Party in the Paddock Day – the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup followed by a top class concert – is on 11 August. There’s flat racing on Friday and Saturday, 7 and 8 September, alongside the Ascot Festival of Food & Wine. The popular Autumn Weekend Beer Festival includes racing on 5 and 6 October. The flat season finale is very special as QIPCO British Champions Day on 20 October is the richest raceday in the calendar.
The excitement builds as spring arrives as the fabulous programme of afternoon and then evening racing opens on 16 April. This year Windsor has merged the Silver Ring and Grandstand to make a Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure with tickets at £18 when purchased in advance. Packages which include dining in the panoramic 1866 restaurant are likely to be a big draw, and you can also travel to the course from Windsor town centre by river taxi.
Monday night racing runs from 23 April and the Bank Holidays on 7and 28 May are Family Fun Days. The Real Ale Festival – featuring local and national favourites – runs alongside the racing on 14 May.
June’s five meetings include live music on 4, 18 and on Saturday, 30th, which is Gentleman’s Day. There’s also racing on Sunday 1, July, and Monday night meetings throughout the month, including the Gin Festival on 9 July. August sees another packed calendar, including Proms in the Paddock on Sunday, 12 August. Country Fair Raceday is on the afternoon of 3 September and racing on October 8, 15 and 23 completes the season.
Newbury has an atmosphere all of its own, the perfect ‘where town meets country’ course’ so close to many top racing stables. You can join the excitement right from Wednesday, 17 January with the afternoon Betfred jumps meeting. The Betfair Super Saturday is on 10 February.
There are four jumps meetings in March: Mencap Charity Raceday (2nd), Greatwood Charity Raceday (3rd), and then the two-day Be Wiser Jumps Season Finale over Friday and Saturday, 23 and 24.
Signs of summer on the way arrive on Friday and Saturday, 20 and 21 April, with the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials on the flat. May sees the Starlight Charity Day on 18 May as a prelude to a big meeting the following day, Al Shaqab Lockinge Day. Enjoy afternoon racing on Thursday, 14 June and then evening racing on Tuesday, 26 June.
Food offerings at Newbury are excellent. For a special day out book for the Hennessy Restaurant’s fine dining experience, or head to the Racegoers Restaurant for a very good lunch.
• Things to do in Berkshire this month - We round up some of the best events and things to do across Berkshire this month