Royal Ascot 2024: how to watch, will there be a king, prize money and schedule

17.06.2024Ksenia Batyshkina

Tomorrow sees the start of one of the UK's most important annual social events, the Royal Ascot Horse Race. We tell you how to watch the competition, whether there will be a king, what weather is expected, and share a selection of royal looks for inspiration.

History and atmosphere

Equestrian sport in Britain has always been treated with a special reverence – one of the oldest and second most popular after soccer, it is considered to be an extremely prestigious and truly high society hobby.

Founded by Queen Anne in 1711, the Royal Ascot event is not only the “jewel” among the many equestrian competitions that take place all year round in the United Kingdom, but since 1752 it has been one of the most important events of the summer social season. For over 300 years, every June, Ascot, a small old town in the ceremonial county of Berkshire, has been a center of attraction for English nobility, those who love to watch them and avid equestrian enthusiasts. People come here not only to watch the competitions, but also to make useful acquaintances, to see guests in the royal sector, to drink champagne while holding your exquisite headdress, and even to find a favorable match for your daughter or son.

How to keep an eye on the horse racing in 2024?

Royal Ascot will begin on Tuesday, June 18 and end on Saturday, June 22. There will be seven races each day – 35 in total. The races will run as scheduled – first at 2:30 p.m., final at 6:15 p.m.

The competition will be available to watch and listen live daily on ITV1, Sky Sports Racing (subscription), BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Berkshire.

If you have taken care of buying a ticket in advance and are going to attend the event in person, it will be useful to know that the racecourse is traditionally divided into several zones:

  • Located at the entrance is the trading sector – where bets are placed, food and drinks are bought, anyone can enter.
  • Windsor Enclosure is the most informal venue with tickets on sale from £49. There is a casual dress code, live music and plenty of options to grab a bite to eat.
  • Village Enclosure – you can’t get into the racecourse building from this lodge – you will have to watch the competitions on big screens, which, by the way, broadcast the main moments of the race and the royal procession in great detail.
  • The Queen Anne Enclosure is the most elite section of the course available to the general public, with great views of the course and plenty of bars and restaurants ready to treat the public to gourmet snacks and drinks.
  • Finally, the Royal Enclosure is the most exclusive part of the venue. There are fine dining restaurants, gardens and an area where you can see the horses up close. It was originally intended for the king’s guests only, but over time it expanded its options. Royal Enclosure is now open to members, but only after receiving recommendations from at least two other eligible members and an entry fee.

Will there be a king and what is the prize money in 2024?

In 2024, the Royal Ascot prize fund exceeded £10 million for the first time. As for the king, according to the existing tradition, each day of the competition opens with a royal procession – last year King Charles III attended all five days of racing. This year, His Majesty intends to attend the event for at least one day, but the exact schedule of the monarch’s visits has not been announced. This is due to the fact that Charles continues to undergo treatment for cancer, and the fulfillment of his official duties now largely depends on the recommendations of the attending physician.

Which royal horses will be in the race?

King Charles III and Queen Camilla now have five horses that will race in several categories:

  • Gilded Water (King George V Stakes and Hampton Court Stakes – both on Thursday)
  • Treasure (Ribblesdale Stakes – Thursday).
  • Crown Estate (Britannia Stakes – Thursday).
  • Hard To Resist (Sandringham Stakes – Friday).
  • Desert Hero (Hardwicke Stakes – Saturday).

Last year, the King and Queen scored a memorable victory when the aforementioned Desert Hero won the venerable King George V Stakes.

What kind of weather is expected?

Forecasters are promising sunny weather and light winds with temperatures around 22°C, but it should be remembered that the race is being held in the UK and things can change at any time.

Opening day race schedule

2:30 p.m. – Queen Anne Stakes – one mile.

15:05 – Coventry Stakes – six furlongs.

15:45 – King Charles III Stakes – five furlongs.

16:25 – St James’s Palace Stakes – one mile.

5:05 p.m. – Ascot Stakes – two miles and four furlongs

17:40 – Wolferton Stakes – one mile and two furlongs

6:15 p.m. – Copper Horse Stakes – one mile and six furlongs

*Furlong is a British and American unit of measurement. 1 furlong = ⅛ mile or 201.168 meters.

A curious fact about horse racing at Ascot

In 2018, there was one major change to the dress code for the Royal Races. Now all men must come to Royal Ascot wearing socks. If they don’t, they will be denied entry. Of the other non-obvious rules: gentlemen are now allowed to appear in a dress, and women have finally been given the right to wear pants. What other curious stories are associated with the event can be read in ZIMA‘s archived material.

The Royal Family at Royal Ascot of various years

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