22 August 2014

Royal Ascot - Square Meal's Dos & Donts

Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7JX

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DO turn up early. Gates open at 10.30am (car parks at 9am) and the day flies by quickly so you’ll want to make the most of it. There’s also less traffic to fight through if you leave London ahead of the crowds.
DON’T take the car. Parking may be included in most packages but the hospitality is generous and you won’t want to miss out on the fabulous wines. Besides, the train from Waterloo (which also stops at Vauxhall and Clapham Junction) only takes 50min.
DO consider helicopter transfers if the budget allows. There is a landing facility on the racecourse: call 01427 718 800 for details.
DON’T bother buying the Racing Post, as it’s among the many thoughtful extras provided in Ascot’s hospitality restaurants.
DO skip breakfast and opt for an early lunch. There are delicious canapés to stave off early hunger and afternoon tea is just around the corner at 3.30pm.
DON’T miss the Royal Procession. It usually starts at 2pm and passes the Silver Ring, Heath and General Admission areas before turning into the Royal Enclosure, where the royal party alights by the Parade Ring.
DO bring a camera with zoom: we got some great shots of HM The Queen. For the best celeb pic opportunities, head for the Parade Ring at midday, when the attention-seekers turn up to pose for the assembled paparazzi.
DON’T forget to bet. Not too much of a song and dance is made about the start of the first race (2.30pm) and it’s easy to miss the call for last bets if you’re busy enjoying your lunch.
DO encourage ladies to take a pashmina and flip-flops. After a long day in heels, they want a comfortable walk back to the train station – a good 15min at strolling speed.
DON’T rush to the train with all the crowds at the end of the day. Bars at the venue stay open for 30min after the last race and you can then head for the Bandstand for ‘Community Singing’ and associated flag-waving before the After Racing Party. Alternatively, join the Pimm’s-swigging crowds at Jagz, an enterprising pub by the station that puts on music, a BBQ and drinks tents.

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