Flat and National Hunt
Approx no. of meetings
Rail from London (52 Minutes from London Waterloo)
Railway station to Racecourse (Half mile walk from the station to the track)
Taxis – Pre-book, not an easy place to get one on the day
This is an amazing course and the biggest single set of stands I think I have been in. Feels later than Cheltenham even on a cold day in January. A multitude of seating, restaurants, bars and Ascot bet concessions everywhere. Easy to get around.
Multiple hotels in the area, but we didn’t stay over for this meeting. Just as easy to get back to central London.
Multiple ticket types from Queen Anne and King Edward enclosures to boxes, corporate and full members. Prices vary dramatically based on the popularity of the event.
(2) Return before the end of the challenge
19th January 2019– Tracks Visited: UK (58), Ireland (4), France (1), Barbados (1)
I am counting Saturday as another dry day (only rain at 5 of 58 tracks so far) even though the mist was more like mizzle by the time we left, this did impact the visibility a little, but with three large repeater screens in front of the Grandstand, this did not impact our ability to watch the race. The King Edward enclosure did provide an excellent view of the finish line, with the sort of vantage point you get from the dress circle in a theatre. The track is one of the best to see from our travels around the country, with clear unimpeded views across to Swindley Bottom from the top of the stands.
We should start a little earlier and mention the free parking for up to 8000 cars. Everything was clearly marked and although there was a little walking involved, the staff on hand gave guidance and were as professional as a well-oiled machine. Tickets checked and camera waiver signed (the only time at any track so far) we entered and enjoyed the chance to get to know the layout of the place on what was a quieter racing day (possibly due to the weather).
Both Madam Hoof and I have visited Ascot before separately and together before the challenge started and the last time was since the amazing refurbishment some five or so years ago. What is evident from the word go is the slickness of the staffing. The barkers in bowler hats guide and inform. There are plenty of other staff to direct and make sure that rules are obeyed (no drinks on escalators etc). This is refreshing as I imagine without it, bigger race days would be chaos. All in all the main stand with its size floors and innumerable bars and restaurants has the feel of going racing at Terminal 5 (just a few miles up the road); Light, airy and mercilessly efficient.
The layout of the track has the pre-parade and parade ring behind the stand. The multi-tiered approach allows far more visibility than the old layout on one level before the refurbishment. This is reminiscent of Cheltenham, but perhaps not quite as deep in layers. There is the inevitable tidal flow from front to back between races, which on a large race meeting could get tricky to traverse, but there are some great step free pass throughs under the stadium which are worth seeking out.
On the day we visited, only about half of the bars and dining options appeared to be open. This makes sense on a quieter. It does give a slightly unnatural ghost town feel in places, but this does not detract from the day itself. I am looking forward to a return in the summer for larger meetings when we can see this majestic beauty in her full glory.