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Ascot No Nay Never and the rest of the pack

I was on the fence about attending Ladies Day at Royal Ascot but since the outing was being organized by a fun British friend, I decided if nothing else, I’d enjoy the company of my new international friends. Little did I know I would thoroughly enjoy myself once I got into the to the races ~ the atmosphere was formal, fun and something I probably won’t get a chance to do again anytime soon.

During the year, Ascot hosts a total of 26 days of horse racing, but the five-day Royal Meeting in June is the most famous with race goers dressed in formal attire. Before the races, many of those attendees enjoy the traditional Car Park Picnic or, as we call it in the states TAILGATING. Our package included Champagne, Wine, Beer, Buck’s Fizz (aka Mimosa) and a few snacks.

The first race ever held at Ascot occurred on 11 August 1711 at the instigation of Queen Anne but it was during George II’s reign when the race became the second most popular in England. The Royal Enclosure was established in the 1790s to ensure privacy for the royal family. In 1822, George IV commissioned the exclusive Royal Box and it was only accessible to guests with the coveted royal invitation. There are MANY dress rules for the Royal Enclosure so it’s just as well I was in the Silver Enclosure.

The five-day meeting of Royal Ascot starts on Tuesday with the Royal Procession entering the racecourse through the Golden Gates. The Queen and her party are in horse-drawn open-top carriages parading along the track in front of the race-goers. Each day has a theme and we chose to attend Ladies Day (Thursday) which features the prestigious Gold Cup event.  Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot can be traced back to 1823 when an anonymous poet said of the Thursday Royal meeting as ‘Ladies’ Day… when the women, like angels, look sweetly divine.’

Ascot Waiting for the Gentlemen

I thought it was funny seeing all the beautifully garbed ladies hanging out side the men’s toilets.

Ascot White Hat

Ascot the ladies

The international ladies in my group.

Ascot no Shoes

This lady had the right idea ~ just take the shoes off completely!

Ascot The biggest Hat

This was my vote for the biggest and most unusual hat of the day (that I saw) but there were obviously more elaborate ones in the Royal enclosure. Click here to see the fabulous hats.

Ascot Red Hat

Those heels make my feet hurt just looking at them. Pretty but painful.

Ascot Pink Hat

This woman was an obvious “regular” of Royal Ascot. She seemed very comfortable with the whole thing.

Ascot Gray Hat

Ascot Brown hat

Ascot Big Hats

It was a lot of fun to see all the beautifully dressed women attending Ladies Day. I got into the spirit of things by wearing a bright pink fascinator and carrying a matching pink handbag. I thought I was being “bold” but paled in comparison.

Ascot traveling by carriage

Several people came to the party in horse-drawn carriages.

Ascot Uniform of the day

And the men were dressed so elegantly.

Ascot No Nay Never

“No Nay Never”

People watching was a lot of fun but the real excitement for me was actually placing a bet on a horse, watching it run and seeing it WIN! This was my first venture to a horse race and I can understand the excitement people feel from the thrill of the races. Since none of the ladies in my group knew a thing about betting on a horse, I “picked” a name from the list which at first glance I thought it said “No Hay Fever.” With my allergies raging these past few weeks, I thought that was the perfect horse to bet on. The name is actually “No Nay Never” but I stuck with it. On further research, No Nay Never is from the US and has a US owner and trainer so how could I not go with it. Odds were 6:1 when I placed my bet but I didn’t realize the odds could change. As the race got closer the odds went to 4:1 which would pay out less. Turns out, in order to keep the odds stated at the time of the bet, you have to say “Fixed Odds”.  Oh, well ~ live and learn. I placed a £10 bet to win and made £40.  Chump change for some, but I was thrilled.

Ascot Times Up

“Times Up”

Since I got my feet wet with the first bet, I decided to go for “worse” odds in the hopes of a bigger payoff. I placed a £5 bet on “Times Up” to win the Golden Cup. But The Queen’s horse, “Estimate” came in first. Watching her face during the win of her horse was so nice. It was obvious she was truly and completely in the moment and so happy. In the past, The Queen has owned 20 winning horses at Royal Ascot but yesterday was the first Gold Cup a monarch has won in the 207 years of the race.

Ascot is located southwest of London. Since I don’t have a car, I took the Jubilee line to Waterloo then a train (about 50 minutes) to Ascot. Biggest worry was my hat getting crushed by the rush hour mob. It’s a bit of a walk from the Ascot train station to the Silver Enclosure so if you go, wear comfortable shoes to walk in. I ended up keeping my comfy shoes on even after getting into the race area ~ I’m in awe of the ladies who could pull off the 4+ inch heels.

I would definitely recommend attending Ladies Day. Be sure to wear a hat and DRESS UP!!

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