Royal Ascot is a hugely special occasion and, from a sporting point of view, is the pinnacle of the horse racing flat season in Great Britain.
Despite the purists among the racing fraternity becoming rather irritated at the way the meeting is covered on television, we must remember that Royal Ascot is more than just a horse racing meeting. It is the social occasion in Britain and is about fashion, high society and showing off our sport’s international appeal.
The Royal meeting features fully eight Group 1 races, the highest level of competitive it is possible to achieve in flat thoroughbred racing, with the Gold Cup, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Coronation Stakes being among the most valuable.
Ascot Racecourse is utterly steeped in history and was opened by Queen Anne, for whom the first race of this meeting is named, way back in 1711. For 308 years this fantastic venue has been hosting top class thoroughbred racing and to this day it retains its importance on the racing scene, being the location of 13 of Great Britain’s 36 annual Group 1 races.
With the 2019 Royal Ascot festival having been over just a few days ago and proving to be as brilliant as ever, we take a look at some of the incredible numbers involved when it comes to pulling this festival together.
The amount of betting turnover generated in Britain by races across the five days of this meeting. Only the Cheltenham Festival is capable of generating equal amount of money via online, on-course and betting shop revenue. Horse racing betting firms list many specials on this meeting to keep punters interested.
This is how much prize money is handed out across the week. Races are worth from £90,000 to £600,000 with the winner taking the lion’s share, that sum then shared out with the owner taking most and the trainer and jockey also claiming a percentage.
The number of people who will attend over the course of the whole meeting. The quietest day is Tuesday, despite the quality of the racing being enormous, while the biggest crowds turn up on Thursday (Gold Cup day) and Saturday with attendance figures topping 70,000.
Given what’s to come later on this list, the fact that this is the number of bottles of water consumed should not be a surprise!
The number of bottles of Champagne bought and drank by race goers over the five days. That amounts to one bottle of posh sparkles for every 5 people at the track every day.
The number of bottles of wine taken. Amazingly less than the amount of Champagne bottles drunk but then that shows the type of people attending this meeting!
At £15 for a ‘pint of prawns’, it’s perhaps a slight surprise that 3,000 lobsters are consumed at the Royal meeting. Perhaps these lobsters are eaten by the same people quaffing the 56,000 bottles of Champers.
The number of limousines arriving at the racecourse, bringing people into the racecourse in style. At least that means around 1,000 chauffeurs get to sample the amazing atmosphere too.
Yes, fully 400 helicopters are used at the racecourse this week. Some are bringing in trainers and jockeys who remain in Newmarket during this week rather than staying over. While helicopter taxi services operate to bring in race goers in a bid to avoid traffic delays at a cost of £400 per person, return from Windsor.
The number of years the Queen has been attending this meeting. Incredibly her Majesty has not missed a Royal Ascot meeting since 1945. And her presence is vital to administrators as a marketing tool.
The total number of races at the meeting. There are exactly six races each day, with the off times always being 2.30, 3.05, 3.40, 4.20, 5.00 and 5.30.
This is the number of private boxes at Ascot Racecourse. The highest amount of boxes featured at any sporting venue anywhere in the world. True, racecourse have the room to accommodate this amount of corporate and guest entertaining, but it is testament to the status of this meeting that so many facilities are required.
Whatever the future holds for this meeting, be it more races, more international runners, higher prize money, a more integrated betting system with contributions from international territories or anything else for that matter, what is certain is that its popularity will never wane.
As the above list shows, Royal Ascot is huge and is set to only get better over the next few years as more and more foreign owners, trainers and jockeys show an urge to take part. This week is truly the jewel in the crown of British horse racing. Long may its popularity continue on the international stage.