Beaufort & Blake: A Gentleman's Guide to Royal Ascot 2016
Fine fillies, royals and big hats – it’s time for Royal Ascot 2016. We’re preparing ourselves for lashings of champagne, a pocket full of ripped up betting slips and a bit of a knees-up. This year more than any other is particularly momentous as we mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.
The Queen has attended Royal Ascot for the last 63 years and, as an owner, has had 71 winners since. With Her Majesty present, Royal Ascot is an occasion that every gentleman should carefully prepare for. With this in mind, here are our top tips to ensuring the odds remain in your favour:
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Study the form guides and look for a horse that has improved gradually. Listen to betting shop and trackside chatter and keep an eye on any horse that is being backed well. At no circumstances should you back a horse because you “like its name” – this isn’t Aintree, chaps.
Backing one or two horses to place will, in the long run, not offer you the same returns as betting on three of four horses to win. Avoid outsiders – those 50/1 odds may seem attractive, but there’s a reason why your horse isn’t fancied. Do remember, however, that if the going is heavy, form general means nothing – an outsider can be worth a punt.
2. PREPARE FOR 'TAILGATING'
No, we’re not talking about your journey to the racecourse. Instead, we’re referring to the all important tailgate picnic – or as we like to call it ‘tailgating’. The tailgate buffet can be the source of much pleasure for race-goers so if you’re hosting – ensure you’re prepared to meet their expectations.
The key to successful ‘tailgating’ is organisation. Proper china and cutlery is a must – we can’t be doing with any paper and plastic. If you’re hosting the tailgate buffet we highly recommend that guests are provided with a drink whilst you un-pack. This will not only stave their hunger, but also keep them occupied as they saunter round car park Number One greeting friends.
Remember – it’s fine to pack the Range Rover with cold lobster, smoked salmon and truffled pâté en croûte but money spent on food is money which could have been put on a horse. Our rule of thumb for Ascot is to spend about half the cost of your hat, which still leaves you plenty with which to lose your shirt.
3. PLAN YOUR OUTFIT
An event defined by its tradition and heritage, Royal Ascot is an occasion to demonstrate your sartorial prowess. By no means does this mean adorning a garish tie and waistcoat combination. Instead, opt for a classic-patterned tie accompanied by a traditional waistcoat. Struggling for options – look no further.
If you are in the market for a new top hat, or simply borrowing one for the occasion, we recommend you invest time ensuring it fits perfectly. A poorly fitting top hat perched on top of your head will aggravate those stood behind you in the Royal Box.
4. STICK TO ETIQUETTE
We need not remind you that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress (rentals accepted but highly noticeable). A gentleman may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden. We would like to remind you that customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is most certainly not permitted.
5. KEEP A TALLY
After a full days racing, it’s likely you will have polished off a fair few glasses of bubbly. We suggest you keep a mental note of how many to prevent being involved in a drunken debacle that one would only expect to see at the Grand National.