Raceway to Ascot

Raceway to Ascot

Over the last 300 years Ascot has established itself as the centrepiece of the British social calendar. The only place to go darlings is to the Royal Enclosure if you past the dress code.

It is really so old fashioned that I can’t but help listing the dress code for both men and women. They really are antiquated.

The requirements for women are as follows:

Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.

Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater (the mind boggles I have never seen any poor woman being descended on by a chap wielding a tape measure)

Jackets and pashminas can be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the dress code. (Heaven help if the pashmina slips off)

Trouser suits are welcome but only if they are full length and of matching material and colour.

Hats should be worn; a headpiece must have a base of 4 inches – here comes the tape measure again.

Hats are what all women think about first. The bigger and better in all sorts of colours with a competition really fierce as to who stands out in the crowds more. Yesterday watching the races on the television I saw one woman with a hat that had a full English breakfast, eggs bacon and baked beans on it! You couldn’t make it up.

Ladies are also kindly asked to note the following; Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch are a no-no. Midriffs must be covered. Fascinators are not allowed. Wags take note.

The men don’t get off lightly either. They must wear grey or black morning dress which must include:

A waistcoat and tie (no cravats) a black or grey top hat and black shoes.

Moss Bross makes a fortune in Ascot week hiring out top hats and morning suits. So we are suitably dressed and off we trot.

The Royal Enclosure is the only place to be, the riff raff have to stay outside. Oh the snobbery for just a day at  the races. But there are plenty of restaurants and champagne bars and after a few glasses I don’t think that anyone would mind not going Royal.

I used to go regularly with my ex-husband and always had a thoroughly good time. It is obligatory to have a picnic in the car park and once more rules come in.

The Number One car park is a hallowed piece of turf and entrance there is guarded fiercely. The spaces are passed down to the next generation. Some families were allotted a space 20 or 30 years ago!

When we went it didn’t matter which car park we were in, it was all great fun. We used to have a driver to take us so that we could imbibe lashings of champagne and not worry about getting home. We would pack the boot with the picnic and booze.

Our friends bought tables and chairs glasses and cutlery. There is nothing so wonderfully than sitting in the car park swigging champagne. There are other options, you can hire a box which overlooks the race track. Yup I bet you had forgotten that we were there to watch the races!

Anyway most boxes are booked on a ”package basis” and include: The hire of the box. Grandstand Admission. Champagne and canapés. Pimms No.1 ,fine wines and a full afternoon tea. The box will have flowers, race cards and the racing papers.

I did once visit people we knew in a box and quite honestly apart from peering out at the racetrack from time to time they could have been anywhere. The Ladies is always packed with women crossing their legs as they waited in a very long line. The women manning the loos were extremely helpful and on windy days they made a fortune selling assorted hat pins. Good for them.

We always made a pit stop at a pub so I could go to the loo before we arrived. Betting is great fun. I mean they even take bets on what colour hat the Queen will wear each day. I think William Hill and all the other bookies must have their fingers crossed until she arrives.

The most bizarre is the bet about what colour hat the Queen would wear. I preferred to back horses that had names that I liked. No peering at the form books for me. The most I ever won was £350.00, truly exciting.

One year my ex won about £700.00 and celebrated by drinking most of the bar dry. The driver and I poured him into the car and went home. Unfortunately at the time we had our house up for sale and arrived home to find the estate agent and a couple looking around. I cringed with embarrassment as the ex threw his top hat in the air along with his winnings and told them it was a truly terrible house and they should not even think of buying it.

Funnily enough they beetled out of the door at a rate of knots. Since the divorce I no longer have a chap who can take me. So I confess that I sit in front of the telly with my cucumber sandwiches and a cup of tea and relax safe in the knowledge that no-one can fault my dress code!

Jane Buckle