Ascot Racecourse

Address:
Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7JX - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01344 878501
Ascot Racecourse Sign
Ascot Racecourse (Colin Smith / geograph.org.uk)

Ascot racecourse is one of the most prestigious and famous courses in the world, and it is well known for being closely associated with the Royal Family, with Windsor Castle located just over six miles down the road.

Ascot is most famous for its five-day annual Royal Ascot event, held in the third week of June, which is regularly attended by Queen Elizabeth II and various other members of the Royal Family.

Royal Ascot is one of the biggest social events of the year, with the press coverage of celebrity attendees and what they are wearing often eclipsing that of the actual racing. Over the course of a calendar year, Ascot features both flat and national hunt races, with the British Champions Day being one of the most popular events held there alongside Royal Ascot.

Access to Ascot couldn’t be easier, with motorway access from all directions and Ascot station less than an hour away from Central London. During Royal Ascot days the course can withstand a capacity of up to 70,000 people, which is due to the redevelopment of the grandstand, which took place during the course’s two year revamping from the end of 2004. Queen Elizabeth II opened the new and improved grandstand in June 2006.

Ticket Prices

For general race days at Ascot, grandstand admission starts from as little as £15 depending on the event, with generous discounts for group bookings as well as free entry for under 18s accompanied by a full paying adult at all events. There are increased prices for customers wanting premier admission or access to the Royal Enclosure, whilst grandstand admission for Royal Ascot starts from £55, with Silver Ring tickets available from just £17.

The Course

The round course at Ascot is a right-handed galloping track, coming in at slightly over 1m6f in length with a run in of two and a half furlongs. This configuration is used for both flat and National Hunt racing, the latter known for its tough fences.

Connected to the run-in is a long straight course, which stretches back another five and a half furlongs. It is one of the most famous racecourses in the world, so has rightly been awarded a Grade 1 status, and the entire Ascot ground, which is owned by the Queen herself, covers an impressive 179 acres of land.

Interestingly, the course was used as inspiration for a setting for a scene in the famous musical My Fair Lady, during the song ‘Ascot Gavotte’, as well as being used as a location for filming for two James Bond films, A View To Kill and Skyfall.

A Brutal Climb

The most famous feature of Ascot’s course is its brutally challenging and tough uphill finish, with the lowest to highest point around the triangular shaped course measuring a gruelling 73-foot climb. It’s a climb impossible to avoid too, present on both the one mile straight track as well as the right-handed triangular circuit. The rises that are present mean that in National Hunt races, taking the obstacles well can preserve a great deal of energy. Lose your momentum and it’s an energy-sapping task to get back up to speed.

While horses competing in longer races do at least enjoy a slightly more relaxing downhill gallop as they head towards Swinley Bottom, it’s pretty much purely an uphill battle on the straight track. It’s on here that races between five furlongs and one mile take place, although a handful of contests do begin on the Old Mile course, which sticks out from Swinley Bottom. You won’t see any record breaking times as a result, despite the straight course often having the fastest ground to superior drainage.

Tactics Distance Dependent

Data shows us that jockeys that hang back on the straight course during sprint contests aren’t able to make up the ground nearly as much as they would elsewhere. Pace pressers enjoy nearly twice the success that would be expected compared to those that are held up during events five or six furlongs in length. The opposite is true during seven furlong and one mile tests though as here, those that do hang back and assess the situation before plotting their move fare considerably better.

The shift in power once again changes when horses head back onto the round course. Due to the short run-in, it’s important not to be too far behind your rivals whatever the pace. Handy runners will also benefit from being able to take an optimal position around the final bend, something that can save a valuable second or two.

There’s no questioning that mid-race positioning is key but where a horse begins appears to have little impact. Sorting through the data, we can find no real evidence of draw bias on either the straight mile or round course.

One caveat to all of these stats and trends is that they cannot be trusted as much as some at other tracks because Ascot was reconfigured in 2005. The racing surface was re-laid, drainage was changed and some small alterations were made to the configuration of the circuit. That means that based on the current course we don’t have data stretching back all that far and over the years ahead we may see clearer biases emerge.

Major Meetings at Ascot

Ladies Day at Royal Ascot
Ladies Day at Royal Ascot (Richard Paxman / commons.wikimedia.org)

The two main annual events at Ascot are Royal Ascot and British Champions Day. As an overall meeting, Royal Ascot is the richest event in British racing, however as an individual day British Champions Day is easily the most lucrative, with a total of £3.4 million being awarded in prize money in 2012. It was first started in 2011 and takes place every October as somewhat of an end of season farewell to British flat racing, with Frankel finishing his career there in 2012 with a fine win in the Champion Stakes.

Aside from the two main events, Ascot holds 26 days of racing every year, with 18 flat meetings held between May and October, as well as 9 of the UK’s annual 32 Group 1 races.

Dining and Hospitality

Ascot Racecourse Track
The Course at Ascot (JohnArmagh / commons.wikimedia.org)

There’s a number of different food and hospitality packages available at Ascot. Fine dining in the Royal Enclosure during Royal Ascot starts from £250 per head, whereas packages on regular race days start at £80 and Ascot assures customers they will benefit from ‘inventive cuisine and exemplary service.’ Private boxes for Royal Ascot begin at £609 per person for a 12-seated box, whilst regular race days are priced at a slightly more affordable rate of £100 each.

The corporate facilities are available for hire for business events and private functions throughout the year, as Ascot tries to take advantage of their unique reputation and outstanding amenities on non-race days.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches