Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a bit of a thing for horses.
Luckily for me, so has the Queen of England.
This week marks the Royal Ascot race, a glorious four days of six races each, all displaying the majestic athleticism of horse and jockey. The event is sponsored by the crown, and generally a great display of horsemanship, wealth, and class systems in an ever-so-English style.
I was unable to afford seats with the posh people in the Royal Enclosure or even the Grandstand, and was regaled to the Silver Lawn, a nice-enough area with plenty of bars and restaurants for the regular people. As a surprise, there were plastic tables and chairs in the section, which allowed us not to stand or sit on the grass for the day’s entirety.
Sadly because I was so far away from the posh people, I couldn’t get a good look at the hats and fascinators on display. Americans will remember these from the Kentucky Derby, Derby Day and the Royal Wedding: they are ridiculously ornate hats and headpieces that women wear for formal occasions. I almost invested in one myself, but then decided against it until I can be sure I attend events that require fascinators more than once in my life.
I was able to view the less-posh fascinators from my own section, and enjoyed the whimsical ideas people had for their fascinators, among them: dead birds, bows and teacups, complete with saucers. Watching the hats while picnicking was entertaining enough before the racing began.
I brought as good of a picnic as I could, complete with chicken skewers, meringue nests with strawberries and Nutella, grapes and oatbakes with caramelized onion chutney. Of course, we also had some prosecco to toast the day with. Half of the day was about picnicking and enjoying being outside while it wasn’t raining, and half was about the horses.
Going through a bit of a Seabiscuit phase as a kid, combined with my knowledge from watching years of the Kentucky Derby on TV has allowed me to know a bit about horse races. I was able to pick up a racecard for the Ascot, which showed all of the horses’ stats like baseball cards and had the jockey’s colors printed out as well as betting odds and instructions on how to place bets. Since it was my first official horse race, I stuck with minimum bets on the most likely horses (most of which just happened to be American-bred).
I still lost.
If I learned one more thing about horse racing from the Ascot, it is that horse racing is never a sure thing. Even if the horse has the best odds, it can still lose in that home stretch or with a photo finish. I think that makes horse racing all the more exciting, although I can see how it would make it all the more confusing, as well.
After losing a few pounds to Totebet, getting some great photos of the royals in the Royal Procession and the horses in the races, finishing off some prosecco and realizing it was starting to rain, it was time to go. Somehow an entire day had gone by in what seemed to be a matter of hours. Between the hats, the horses and the food, it was worth spending the day at the Ascot.