April 15, 2024


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Top hats, champagne and bunting

Not being able to dress up for Royal Ascot this week is a disappointment, especially for anyone who got a bit giddy after a rare winner last year and splashed out on a top hat from Oliver Brown after the topper’s predecessor had been sat upon by a fat man on the train.

Perhaps I have said too much. Opportunities to wear the lid are few and far between in the social circles in which I move, and so I am making the best of it over the next five days. Here are my suggestions as to how you, too, might recreate the Royal Ascot magic at home.

All 36 races are televised, with coverage on ITV and Sky Sports Racing. We will be live blogging every day on Telegraph Sport and hopefully providing you with news, gossip and most importantly, winners.

Royal Ascot is a sporting highlight and a patriotic institution, but it is also a money-making machine, and noises coming out of Berkshire are the unmistakable tones of an outfit seeing a big hole in its bottom line.

Royal Ascot has put in a lot of effort to encourage punters and attendees to make the best of a bad job and spend their money remotely. Afternoon tea hampers, wine deliveries, fashion and of course bookmakers are all here to remind you that you don’t have to come racing to fund racing.

uests pose on the steps during day 1 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse – GETTY IMAGES

Lunches at Ascot have become serious business, and the likes of Raymond Blanc and Ollie Dabbous will, alas, not be laying on the spreads in person, but they will be sharing recipes throughout the week. They are also participating in the cutely-named ‘Coronation Chicken Stakes’, where these great chefs will compete for public votes over who has made the best classic English summer dishes.

For many, Royal Ascot would not be the same without the option of something cold and refreshing, and the course has thus gone into the wine-delivery game. It is doing cases of wine named after former Gold Cup heroes – The Yeats Case, The Sagaro Case and The Fame and Glory Case, with Moët & Chandon among the runners and riders in those selections. Some of the proceeds from those sales will go to charity. Afternoon tea hampers are also up for scrumps, and at £45 plus £5 delivery, they are surely very delicious indeed.

Should you be so minded, you can download and print patriotic bunting with which to festoon your home and garden. Please be careful with the scissors, they are sharp.

On the subject of charity, the #StyledWithThanks campaign invites fans to send in pictures of themselves in their finery, make a donation and help a fundraising campaign in aid of those affected by Covid-19. The National Emergencies Trust Relief Fund, NHS Charities Together, The Care Workers Charity and the Berkshire Community Foundation are among the beneficiaries. One lovely Royal Ascot tradition is to have a picture taken in front of the flower wall on the way in; this has been recreated digitally and can be used as a backdrop for photos.

Royal Ascot is also selling commemorative teddy bears, and the money raised from these will be donated. For junior racing fans, there are design-your-own jockey silks and racing scenes to colour in, word searches and tips on how to make a hat at home.

It is sad for sport, and racegoers, that the meeting this year takes place behind closed doors, and no doubt the Queen will be sorrier than most. On the upside, it does mean that we can enjoy the racing without traffic, train strikes and beastly behaviour.