Ascot: a day at the races

Ascot is far more than Ladies' Day and big fancy hats. It's more than the five days of Royal Ascot celebrated in June each year, too. In fact, the best known race course in the world has a programme of flat and jump meetings throughout the year, as well as all sorts of other events.

You  may have missed Royal Ascot itself, but there's no reason why you shouldn't visit the world's most famous race course for one of the other meetings and try your luck. And this year there's an additional incentive, as the racecourse is coming up to its third century. It was Queen Anne who, in 1711, while out riding close to Windsor Castle, came upon an area of open heath that looked an ideal place for "horses to gallop at full stretch". Since then, there have obviously been a lot of changes, both in the horses that race – this year for a total of £14 million in prize money – and in the course itself, which now has two tracks (jumps and flat) and all mod cons. Seventy full-time staff are needed to take care of the facilities, but during Royal Ascot – the high spot of the season – thousands of additional temporary staff are taken on to deal with the 300,000 visitors who attend over the five day event.

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