Written for theRACES for ATC Randwick
While Sydneysiders and Melbournites may don their fanciest millenary in Spring and Autumn, there’s no reason to put the fascinators away in the off-season because it’s always race season somewhere. Each month we will be profiling a racing venue around the globe to keep your options open for the winter and summer months.
For holidaymakers heading to the United Kingdom, the Royal Ascot is a must. With nine Group One races this year, the on-field action is brilliant. Set in the Berkshire countryside near Windsor Great Park and fit for The Queen (she’s a regular), the Royal Ascot has become a staple on any British social calendar. You’ll see all the fake tans, scuffles, and bottles of champagne flowing as we do here, but with a dress code 300 years in the making the spectacle is quite different from the races we have grown accustomed to. The glossy event is famed for its heritage and pomp. Covered shoulders and skirts below the knees at one end of the stand; plunging necklines and skirts grazing thighs at the other; and headwear fit for a mad-hatter all around.
In the height of summer, the 16-21 June event date makes it an ideal time to visit and explore this lush countryside, beyond just the races. Peppered with gardens, parks and palaces, a drive around the windy roads or a picnic in Savill Garden is a wonderful way to extend the regal feeling brought on by the races.
In and around the Royal Ascot (5 sliding captioned images)
To do: Savill Garden
Wind down after the long day out and while away the hours drifting across the 35 acre park with a book and picnic in tow. Alongside varied exotic gardens you will find trees planted by members of the Royal Family.
To do: Windsor Great Park
Wander outside Savill Garden to the historic and expansive parkland. Join the likes of past Royals, Politicians and Prime Ministers by riding a horse across the grounds. Over two and a half million people flocking to the park every year to ride, run or walk. If you are more into slower-paced activities; you can view the statues and gardens scattered across the park or shade yourself under the ancient oaks.
To do: Windsor Castle
The Queen prefers this great castle to Buckingham Palace, and it’s not hard to see why. The massive stone castle sits atop a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside. Although packed with visitors in the summer months, it is well worth a view. The walls are filled with history and the grounds are magnificent.
To stay: Highclere Hotel
A spot perfect for race goers looking for a spot close to the course (5 minute taxi) with mid-range prices. The friendly couple overseeing the hotel will make sure your stay in Ascot is memorable – it is small so be sure to book well in advance.
To stay: Royal Berkshire Hotel
To complete the elegant yet charming ambience of the Ascot Races, the Royal Berkshire cannot be matched. The huge, historic mansion was built for the Churchill family and oozes sophistication. If the races weren’t on, the manicured lawns and rustic dining leave little reason to even leave the grounds.