Racecourses in Ascot
Ascot Racecourse, founded in 1711 is the world's most famous racecourse.
It was Queen Anne who first saw the potential of a racecourse for Ascot, which in those days was known at East Cote. Whilst out riding she came across an area of open heath, not far from Windsor Castle, that looked an ideal place for "horses to gallop at full stretch."
The first race meeting ever held at Ascot took place on Saturday, August 11, 1711. Her Majesty's Plate, worth 100 guineas was the inaugural event, open to any horse, mare or gelding over the age of six. Each horse was required to carry a weight of 12 stone and seven runners took part.
Racing at Ascot became very popular and, in 1813 Parliament passed an Act of Enclosure. This act ensured that Ascot Heath, although property of the crown, would be kept and used as a racecourse for the public in the future. Today the racecourse is managed by the Ascot Authority, created by an Act of Parliament passed in 1913. His Majesty's Representative became Chairman of the Authority with the Clerk of the Course acting as secretary. Today Ascot retains both these positions, but with the additional appointment of a Chief Executive and departmental directors under him.
Up until 1945 the only racing to take place at Ascot was the four day Royal Meeting. Since then the number of fixtures has steadily increased, with the introduction of the steeple chase and hurdle course in 1965, allowing National Hunt fixtures to be held during the winter months.
Today Ascot stages 25 days of racing throughout the year, 16 Flat meetings between the months of May and October and 9 National Hunt meetings between November and April. The Royal Meeting, held in June is undoubtedly the most famous of these, where top class racing is combined with tradition, pageantry and style. Other highlights include Diamond Day, featuring the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, The Blue Square Shergar Cup, racing's only team competition and the BETDAQ Festival of racing, featuring The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Ascot Racecourse welcomes some 500,000 race goers through the gates each year and continues to offer unbeatable racing action. Queen Anne would surely be very proud of her sporting legacy to the nation
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