Glamorous and exciting… it can only be Ascot
PUBLISHED: 11:01 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:49 11 April 2013
A bit of inside gen: If you haven't visited Ascot since the huge redevelopment between 2004 and 2006 and marvelled at the stunning new grandstand, well shame on you! Make sure you're one of the 500,000 who attend this year (that's a whopping 10 per cent of all UK racegoers). There are two tracks, allowing for both flat and jump meetings.
Ambience: A stylish parade of fashionistas and celebrities magically merges with heritage during Royal Ascot, but this course is the perfect chameleon. It’s a super choice for first time race-goers, you’ll find staff friendly and helpful, and throughout the year there are race days which suit family outings and those on a budget.
Place your bets: Look out for horses that have already won over the distance they are racing at Ascot, particularly those that seem to prefer a right handed course. Form guides will help you out here. Horses that are stepping up in distance need some extra ability and stamina as Ascot is considered a fairly tough course, particularly over fences where they face a bit of a climb from Swinley Bottom to the winning post. You could be cheering on your ‘winner’ two-thirds of the way round as it heads the pack, only to see the dear horse fade out of the places in the final stretch.
Foody facts: Lots of choices, from fine dining to food on the go. Premier admission gives you the options of the Caviar House & Prunier for excellent seafood, or the Horsewalk Restaurant with its seasonal and usually locally sourced traditional English fare (expect to pay from around £48 per person).
Grandstand admission offers the Ascot Grill (two course carvery with coffee for £27.50), or the Bandstand Restaurant where you can get a tasty lunch for under £10, or afternoon tea. Children under 16 eat for free at the Bandstand when accompanied by an adult on Sunday 7 April.
Packages: The fine dining packages make a day to remember. The jump season finishes on April 7 and fine dining until then includes The Chase Package at £96, which provides premier admission and a three course lunch amongst the treats. For a real celebration choose the Hurdle package at £192 for a luxury day out from start to finish. The sky’s the limit for flat racing and Royal Ascot packages, starting from £114 per person for the Ascot Pavilion to £324 for the Parade Ring Restaurant. Choose the top Parade Ring package during Royal Ascot and we’re talking the ultimate day out from £1,280 per person.
Meetings in April and May:
7 April: Countryside Raceday is a family day with a host of activities to keep children happy, including terrier racing, hawks and llama displays, pony rides, quad bikes a climbing wall.
1 May: Flat season opener with one of the trial races for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
10 and 11 May: Race, rattle ‘n’ roll evening racing with a 1950s theme, followed by a daytime meeting on the Saturday. Cadillacs, American diners and lots of jiving.
You need to start purchasing those tickets now (there’s an early booking discount until 26 April, see www.ascot.co.uk).
And don’t miss out on a chance to enjoy the treats Tom Kerridge, chef-patron of the two Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow is bringing to the Panoramic Restaurant during the Royal Meeting, from Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 June.
Working closely with Ascot’s Executive Chef, Steve Golding, Kerridge has devised dishes for the Panoramic Restaurant that are sophisticated yet familiar, reflecting his passion of taking traditional English dishes and giving them a Kerridge ‘twist’. Dishes include poached lobster and late season English asparagus salad with summer truffle dressing, treacle cured beef fillet with braised shin, courgette flower and clotted cream pomme purée, tonka bean pannacotta and poached strawberries and ice cream.
Tom says “‘I am delighted to be involved in Royal Ascot. This is a major part of the British social calendar and I feel immensely proud to be showcasing British food at the prestigious event.”
The package includes a Royal Enclosure guest badge, a private balcony and roof terrace, champagne and caviar reception, five course luncheon, selection of fine wines and liqueurs, full afternoon tea and a complimentary bar throughout the day. The Panoramic package costs from £880 per person and reservations can be made on 0844 346 0346 or visit www.royalascothospitality.co.uk for more information.