The Ascot racecourse is one of the, for want of a better word, important racecourse to the country. It hosts no less than 13 of the 36 annual group one races held in the UK and is home to such popular and longstanding races as the King’s Stand Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes. Many of these races are steeped in hundreds of years of history.
In addition to hosting such prestigious individual races, the Ascot racecourse stages October’s British Champions Day each year. This is a world class event launched in 2011 and has featured a who’s who of horse racing talented ever since. It got off to a seriously impressive start when Frankel won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes there in its opening year. The following year he did a victory lap of sorts, winning his last ever race, the Champion Stakes, before retiring from racing undefeated. The five races that make up British Champions Day are: British Champions Sprint Stakes , British Champions Long Distance Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes. All but the Long Distance Cup are Group One races.
As high class as the relatively newly minted British Champions Day may be, it still can’t quite compared to the real jewel in the crown though, which dates all the way back to 1711, namely Royal Ascot. The Royal Ascot festival and indeed the racecourse itself was founded by Queen Anne that year and is to this day attended by a member of the Royal family each year. They take their place in the ‘Royal Enclosure’.
With 300,000+ attending Royal Ascot over the five days, those on course and watching at home get to feast on group one racing action and numerous other ultra competitive matchups. Prize money for the entire event is well over £6 million with a Purse of £750,000 for the Prince of Wales Stakes alone. The Ascot Gold Cup is another highlight for many and that takes place on the ever popular Ladies Day.
In part due to its Royal links, the course has popular cultural significance, and has featured in movies as well as being the subject and setting of songs. My Fair Lady’s ‘Ascot Gavotte’ is one example of this.