A wealthy suburban town in Berkshire, Ascot is west of London and is mightily popular with affluent types who commute into London daily. It is close to Windsor Castle, the Great Park and Legoland but is chiefly renowned for its racecourse, which was founded by Queen Anne in 1711. Regular horse racing is enjoyed all year around at Ascot, but the poshest and brashest of all is the world-famous Royal Ascot meeting, held in June in the presence of HM The Queen plus many of her royal relations and entourage. It is one of the highlights of her year and in 60 years as monarch, she has only missed the event once. This stylish race meeting is notorious for its designer outfits and spectators have to adhere to an extremely strict dress code of top hats and tails for the men and smart dresses and fantastical hats for the women. The racing is as glamorous as the fashion, with six races run each day by horses at the very top of their game. The biggest money-spinners of the week are the prestigious Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the Royal Jubilee Stakes and the Ascot Gold Cup, which is run on Ladies Day. To make a visit to Ascot racecourse even more special, a spectacular new grandstand opened in 2006.
Ascot is 40 km (25 miles) west of London and is best reached by train from London Waterloo in approximately 45 minutes. There is a strict dress code for all race meetings, which vary between the flat season (summer) and over the jumps (winter). The dates for Royal Ascot are normally five days in mid-June.