On August 11, 1711, the British racecourse in Ascot, Berkshire, England, owned by Ascot Racecourse Ltd, was founded by Queen Anne. The first race, “Her Majesty’s Plate”, with a purse of 100 guineas, was held on August 11, 1711, competed by seven horses. The Queen has not missed the annual Royal Meeting since her Coronation in 1953 and traditionally presents The Gold Cup and The Diamond Jubilee Stakes each year.
The race track is closely associated with the British Royal Family, approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) from Windsor Castle. It hosts thoroughbred horse races and is one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom. It already hosted 13 of Britain’s 36 annual Group 1 horse races.
The administration is handled on behalf of the Crown by a representative appointed by the Monarch. Up until 1901, the racecourse was managed by the Master of the Royal Buckhounds. Lord Churchill was appointed His Majesty’s Representative in 1901, responsible for running the course and determining entrance to the Royal Enclosure. The Ascot Authority was established in 1913 by a further Act of Parliament, with His Majesty’s Representative becoming Senior Trustee.
From 1940 to 1943, operation halted as the army utilized the track. The Grandstand was used as accommodation for gunners of the Royal Artillery. Racing resumed on May 15, 1943, with an eight-race card. The first post-war fixture was held on May 21, 1945, when the 19-year-old Princess Elizabeth attended Ascot for the first time, while the first National Hunt meeting was held in 1965. In 2004, Ascot Racecourse was closed for a £220 million redevelopment, the single biggest investment in British Racing. The Queen reopened it on June 20, 2006.
The Ascot Racecourse has a circumference of 2022m, and races take place on a turf surface with a drainage system. Racing takes place on the Ascot track in an anti-clockwise direction, following South Australian and Victorian racehorses follow. It has a relatively short straight of just 294 meters with a slight incline from the 400m mark to the finishing post. It has distances between 1000 and 2400 meters.
It has a grandstand that can capacitate 30,000 seats, screened on Sky Sports Racing. Ascot currently stages 26 days of racing over the year, comprising 18 flat meetings held between May and October inclusive. Throughout the winter months, it also stages important jump racing. Every June, the Royal Meeting remains a major draw; its highlight is The Gold Cup. Then in July, the most prestigious race is held, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.