Getting the hats ready for Ascot

Travel Ideas

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It’s not like me to write about sport twice in seven days, but hey – crazy things can happen! Similar to my newfound zeal for cricket – speaking of which, it’s SUCH a shame England got knocked out! – I’ve never been very interested in horseracing but there’s a buzz around the office with Royal Ascot starting today and it might be infecting me too.

In any case, I think I’ll have to pay attention this year, and to the actual races as well. A recently engaged friend of mine is always looking for an excuse to dress up in elegant clothes and she really wants to go to there for her Hen weekend and stay in a fancy hotel in Ascot. So I better become au fait with its ways before being dipped headfirst into the Ascot action in 2010!

And here’s what I discovered: Royal Ascot has origins way back to 1711, with the oldest race – the Gold Cup – first run in 1807. It’s held every year at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, about 27 miles (maybe an hour’s drive in low traffic) from London, with six races held every day; in 2009, the Gold Cup will be run on Thursday June 18. Supposedly, the Queen has six runners entered this year and has owned 20 Ascot winners to date.

Despite all this, the event is really known – in my mind, at least – for two things: a flurry of betting from people who don’t usually gamble and outlandish ladies hats. Indeed, I think I usually notice the hats more than the horses – take a look here at some great photos of Ascot hats (many of them Sex and the City-inspired) run by The Sun last year.

I have just found out another thing that I never knew before too. According to the Telegraph – they’ve got a great Ascot fact page up today – “off the shoulder, halter neck and dresses with a strap of less than one inch are all banned” from the Royal Enclosure. That’s all my favourite dresses out of the running! Just as well I have a year to get a new one… and find a suitably ostentatious hat!

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