We were as disappointed as anyone to learn a few months ago that Royal Ascot - the greatest race meet in the calendar - would not be going ahead. Even worse, we had recently shot ITV Racing presenter Oli Bell in our Ascot collection at Parkhouse Stables, Kingsclere, and were totally geared up for the prospect of a wonderful racing season ahead. Then lockdown struck. There is no better reason to get dressed up in one’s finery than a day of revelry at Ascot. It’s such a wonderful sight to see everyone in their pomp, noting all of the individual flourishes people choose to embellish themselves with, from splendidly patterned waistcoats and glamorous dresses, to ornate tie pins and extravagant fascinators.
Well, you needn’t leave the morning suit or occasion coat in the wardrobe for long because Ascot is not off! June 16th marks the first day of ‘Virtual Ascot’ and organisers are imploring the viewing public to don their finery for five days of the highest level racing (albeit from one’s sofa). Shouting at the television won’t quite be the same as euphoria at the finishing post, but it’s as good as it’s going to get this year.
Racing kicks off proper on Tuesday 16th June with the Group 1 Queen Anne stakes at 13.50 and finishes with the Diamond Jubilee stakes at 15.35 on Saturday 20th June. This is the first time that the event will be held behind closed doors in its 250+ year history. And while nothing quite beats being there and flooding your senses with the spirit (and champagne) of Ascot, the organisers have pulled out all the stops to try and make this unique event as much fun as possible from your perch at home. Throughout the week, activities will run the course of each day, to supplement the televised racing, ranging from celebrity chef recipes to jockey workouts and sing-along celebrations. Many activities will have a fundraising element in support of Ascot’s #StyledWithThanks fundraising campaign in aid of those affected by COVID-19. Ascot has donated £100,000 to the fundraising page to kick-off the campaign. All money raised will be donated to The National Emergencies Trust Relief Fund, NHS Charities Together, The Care Workers Charity and the Berkshire Community Foundation.
So we’re asking our Favourbrook friends to join in the virtual fun. Dust off your finery and join the millions of others watching the races from around the world. Gentlemen, that means donning your morning suits, and ladies, your finest race-going attire. Don’t also forget to take part in Royal Ascot’s #StyledWithThanks fundraising campaign, which requires you to share an image of yourself in your best hat on social media. We’d like to point the ladies in the direction of our great friend Georgina Abbott, founder of Atelier Millinery, who has created a beautiful ‘Rain Bow’ hat. Royal Ascot and the British Hat Guild invited leading British milliners to create a bespoke hat or headpiece featuring a rainbow theme, in-line with the nation’s use of rainbows to thank the NHS and frontline workers. Georgina’s design is a cloud white sinamay saucer with a silver lining, finished with a hand-dyed organdy bow.
Live social media coverage will begin with the historic Royal Ascot Greencoats opening the racecourse gates at 10.30am, as is custom, and a new digital racecard will be available each day to give racing fans all the details of the enhanced 36-race order of running for 2020. Tipsters will take to Ascot’s social media channels to share insights and advice for betters and live television coverage will be aired each day on ITV and Sky Sports Racing.
We’ll see you at the races!