On Horse Bets, Wine and Fascinators (A Day in Royal Ascot)

Horses, bets and wine. These are the three words that describe best my last weekend in London. It was time for the the Royal Ascot Horse Race, which this year celebrated its 300 years. Being the UK my soon-to-be new home country, there was no way I was going to miss this english social event.

There are three areas for racegoers – the Royal Enclosure, Grandstand and Silver Ring admissions.

The difference is simple: while the first two could be compared to first and business class on an international flight, with its welcome drink, comfortable seats and surprisingly good food; Silver Ring is the economy class of any airline, that is, the group of high school friends that travel over the weekend to Amsterdam to get stoned, the kid that doesn’t stop kicking the back of your seat and the fat snoring man who takes over part of your already very reduced space.

Obviously, this difference is also reflected on the price. While Grandstand admissions cost 62 pounds, we got our 10 Silver Ring tickets for 21.5 pounds each. The Silver Ring entrance is a significant walk away from the main entrance, which is fine as long as you feel comfortable in your shoes and british weather doesn’t turn against you. Although long, the path is easy to find – you only need to follow the crowd that carries their own bottles and sandwiches – yes, you’re allowed to bring a bottle of wine or 4 beer cans per person, as long as you pack some food, too!

Another big difference between the Grandstand and Silver Ring is the dress code – there is no dress code for Ascot’s economy class. The only no-go was bear chests, which clearly took away most of the fun. Despite the lack of a dress code, people did make an effort to dress up – high heels and short skirts were all over the wet grass, and many of the girls wore hats and fascinators.

The weather on saturday morning was terrible, I really considered simply slipping into my rain boots and leaving my fascinator for a different occasion, but then, isn’t the fun on going to Royal Ascot on dressing up and wearing a fancy hat? I’m glad we chose hat/fascinator and heels, after half an hour the rain stopped and it was a beautiful day.

Don’t we look almost british?

After a bottle of wine, we wanted to place a bet – but which horse? how do you bet anyways? I should have read more about betting than about the events’ hat parade. I bet 10 pounds on three horses – one based on the recommendation of the woman standing before us in the betting queue and two others based on their numbers (yeah, I know, that’s not very professional). I watched my three horses run and stay behind – in less than 20 minutes I had already lost my bet! Despite our failure to turn rich in one afternoon, we had a great time and enjoyed a very good position to watch the race.

When the last race finishes, the party is far from being over. Ascot has bars and terraces packed with young racegoers that refuse going home at 6pm. It’s a great chance to mingle with other classes!

Despite some casual rain drops and the wind eventually picking up my summer dress, I had an amazing time and want to repeat the experience again next year. Silver Ring admission is a fun experience if yo don’t mind standing with another 2,000 people on the grass and being further away from the finishing line. I might just try out the Grandstand next time – to be able to compare properly which ambience I prefer!

Have you ever been to a horse race? Which is the top social event of the year in your country?

22 thoughts on “On Horse Bets, Wine and Fascinators (A Day in Royal Ascot)

  1. As usual, your posts are some of the best! My daughter who is 16 years old, loves to read your blog!! We both do for that matter! She was in London last summer and had a great time!

    Hope you have a wonderful Sunday as we hopped over from FTLOB Sunday Comment day!

  2. How fun! Looks like an incredible day! I think it’s funny that the limit is 4 beer cans per person. I think I’d pack wine. 🙂

  3. You look fabulous! I love that fascinator. I wish I could dress up like that in Switzerland – but even when they dress up, they are a lot more conservative – no fun at all!

    The top social event here… probably the Ball at the Opera House. Seats/tables are a few hundred francs each. have been trying to decide whether it might actually be fun to go 😉

  4. Hi Katherina,
    really enjoyed reading your post about the Horse Race (and what a gorgeous hat, if I may add!). It is interesting to find that even in the Silver Ring people try to dress nice and look appropriate. One of the big events where I live is a race, too, though this one is a Nascar Race over Memorial Day Weekend. Even here, the “economy class” are allowed to bring beer, however, the dress code usually just consists out of T-shirts, jeans, and the all american sneakers 🙂
    I have not been inside the Race, but this year had the great opportunity to hear and watch from the parking lot right outside the race tracks. It’s a memory I shall cherish for a long time.
    Great pictures and very interesting post!


  5. So fun!!! I have always wanted to go to a horse race like this (read: Kentucky Derby) but doing it up British style, now that is the way to go. And who needs ‘first class’ when you can party it up like that in ‘economy’!?!? haha.

    1. The brits definitely know about celebrating classy events, I was kind of sad I didn’t get to see the Queen though! You should definitely go to the Kentucky Derby if you have the chance…

  6. You actually look kind of British dressed like that! I admire your chameleo way of fitting in.

    Canada has plenty of British sides but horse racing isn’t that popular here, not that I know of anyway. Social events would probably revolve around hockey games and tailgate parties.

    It’s funny the classe thing matters so much. So European… French are like that too.

    1. Thanks Zhu, I had a lot of fun converting myself into a british racegoer 🙂
      I find it funny how much difference there was between Silver Ring and the Grandstand admission. Besides, if you read reviews, the Silver Ring is often marked like almost “trashy”…

  7. Great post! We were in the Grandstand and paid £21 for our tix – my friend googled ‘discount royal ascot’ and found them through a local paper. So glad the weather held out for you! Cute fascinator, BTW 🙂

  8. I can be such an Anglophile… like with fascinators, for example… we just don’t have anything like that in the states! Plus, Wimbledon is going on so I’m feeling Brit fever 🙂

  9. This is the second post I have read about horse races today. However, the first one was about horse races in Vietnam so this is way different! It sounds like fun and I am glad you decided to get fancy, I love the photo!

  10. I just finished reading Seabiscuit and now I’m super keen to go to a horse race–it’s an excellent book if you haven’t read it, tbw–the Melbourne Cup is in November and even though I’m supposed to leave Melbs by then, I’m thinking about coming back for it!

    1. I heard all good reviews about Seabiscuit and its already on my list. Australia also seems to have a certain horse racing culture – many of the horses were australian, so I’m sure it’d be a great event!

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