AS a regular racegoer and somebody who has attended Royal Ascot many times, I can't emphasise enough why it should be on everybody's to-do list for 2020 and beyond.
The English Summer comprises a number of quintessentially British social and sporting events that define all that sums up the British ethos of pomp, ceremony and tradition. The traditional summer highlights include the Epsom Derby, the Chelsea Flower Show, Henley Regatta, the Hickstead Derby, Wimbledon and Glorious Goodwood. But for many, myself included, the five-day annual extravaganza in June at Royal Ascot tops the lot and is the marquee act every summer.
The traditional English season can be dated back to Edwardian times when the aristocracy forewent their country mansions to immerse themselves in the London social scene. Queen Anne founded Ascot racecourse back in 1711. Today the Queen usually attends every day of the meeting along with other royals and they set the tone for each day with the Royal Procession of horse-drawn carriages the aperitif before the racing itself starts.
Royal Ascot can be summed up by huge gambling, high-quality flat racing, amazing fashion and style, top quality food and Champagne in abundance.
The dress code is strict particularly in the Royal Enclosure where it's obligatory for men to don a black or grey top hat and tails with a waistcoat, tie and the mandatory black shoes. Morleys in Cork have always helped me and many royal racegoers to dress suitably for the occasion.
Women must wear skirts or dresses with hemlines below the knee. Hats must be worn also, with fascinators forbidden to anyone older than 16.
The dress code is slightly more relaxed in the other enclosures though many follow the code from the Royal Enclosure.
While Frankie Dettori was riding a four-timer on Thursday including the featured Gold Cup, I decided to sample some 'Royal Ascot Champagne Afternoon Tea' which sets one back £57.50 in the Windsor Greys Royal Enclosure.
From refined menus designed by Michelin starred chefs to.more informal buffets allied with the aforementioned classic afternoon teas Ascot caters for a multitude of potential discerning diners.
There are over 50 bars and restaurants spread across the four enclosures at Royal Ascot to cater for the 300,000 racegoers that descend on the racecourse.
The myriad of bars at Royal Ascot is impressive and the new Gin Terrace embraces the feverish gin culture that we are familiar with here in Cork.
Royal Ascot has a classical cocktail 'The Royal Ascot Blush' which comprises Beefeater Pink Gin, Fever Tree Light Lemonade and fresh strawberries.