Ascot: 6 things you didn't know about the royal racecourse

Disha Daswaney
Harriet Hunt Communications

Ascot opens its Flat Racing season next week on May 3, which means it's time to start thinking about your first flutter.

But aside from being a great day out and a way to make - or lose - a few bob, how much do you actually know about the famous racecourse?

Here are five things you didn't know about Ascot.

1. Queen Anne spotted its potential

It was Queen Anne who first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot in summer 1711, when it was still called East Cote. Whilst out riding she came upon an area of open heath not far from Windsor Castle, which looked like an ideal place for “horses to gallop at full stretch”. Naturally her wish was granted and the first race meeting at Ascot took place on August 11th of the same year. The inaugural event was Her Majesty's Plate, which was worth 100 guineas.

2. The first building was erected in 1974

The first permanent building was erected in 1794 by a local Windsor builder - it held 1,650 people and was used for almost fifty years.

3. The land is leased from the Crown Estate

The land on which Ascot Racecourse sits is leased from the Crown Estate, and is adjacent to Windsor's Great Park. Famed for being a tough course, it is a 73-foot climb from the lowest point (Swinley Bottom) up to the highest (Winning Post). The racecourse covers 179 acres and is maintained by 12 regular ground staff. For flat racing, the grass is cut to a regulation 4 inches, and 5 inches for Jump racing.

4. There's a race most months of the year

A race meeting is held nearly every month at Ascot. The flat season runs from late April/early May to the end of October, and the Jumps season runs from November until late March/early April. Last year a total of 1,421 runners raced at Ascot during the Flat Season.

5. More than half a million people go to Ascot each year

Ascot Racecourse is visited by almost 600,000 racegoers a year, accounting for 10 per cent of all UK racegoers. Between them they consume more than 72,000 scones and 55,000 bottles of Champagne.

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