The Queen’s lifelong passion for horses is shared by many members of the Royal family through racing, polo, three-day eventing and carriage driving. In 2014, The Royal Borough offers visitors ten memorable ways to celebrate the Year of the Horse, whether as spectators or participants….
Racing At Ascot
Synonymous with quality, style and excellence, Ascot welcomes over 500,000 race-goers a year, accounting for 10% of all UK racegoers. Five-day Royal Ascot is Britain’s most popular race meeting with over 285,000 visitors. It takes place during the third week in June and is steeped in tradition and pageantry. Ascot Racecourse also hosts jumps meetings from November to April.
Did You Know? Stewards wearing bowler hats is one of the endearing and defining sights of Ascot. However, the dress instruction met with near mutiny when introduced in the late 1950s. The trustees had to give pay rises at the time to prevent strike action.
Racing At Royal Windsor
A fabulous island location set in 165 acres of beautiful countryside on the banks of the River Thames, overlooked by Windsor Castle. Flat racing takes place from April to October with regular Monday evening fixtures and themed nights during the summer. You can even arrive by boat.
Did You Know? Royal Windsor is one of only two figure-of-eight courses in the United Kingdom (the other is Fontwell Park).
Polo features heavily in the Borough’s sporting calendar at local clubs Guards Polo, Ascot Park and Coworth Park. The fixture list usually runs from April to September. The Royal Borough hosts polo matches at Smith Lawns, Royal Berkshire and Coworth Park, and features the world’s top professionals and plenty of opportunities to take part in half time “divot stamping.”
Did You Know? Polo must be played right-handed, and teams change direction of play after each goal.
Visiting Smith’s Lawn
Smith’s Lawn in Windsor Great Park is one of Europe’s foremost destinations to watch polo. The Light Cavalry supply mounted and dismounted guards at matches held during summer months, with polo chukkas taking place most days from April to September for national and international teams to compete in.
Did You Know? Smith’s Lawn is Europe’s largest area dedicated to playing polo.
Attending Guards Polo Academy
Playing members of Guards Polo Academy and guests of Coworth Park have the opportunity to learn and train with Andrew Hine, one of the most experienced players of the game. Andrew’s team, which includes several leading polo coaches, offer the highest polo tuition to members of Guards Polo Club and will also introduce the sport of polo to non-players through the Academy’s corporate and private leisure polo days.
Did You Know? Coworth Park is the only hotel in the UK that provides its own polo fields and practice facilities.
Walking To The Copper Horse
There are three equestrian statues erected in Windsor Great Park. At the southern end of the Long Walk on top of Snow Hill is the Copper Horse, a statue depicting King George III as Roman Emperor, hence no stirrups. The second statue depicts Prince Albert, and overlooks Smiths Lawn. The third shows Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on horseback and sits at the southern end of Queen Anne’s Ride. Commissioned to commemorate her Golden Jubilee, the artist was Phillip Jackson.
Did You Know? The Copper Horse was made of 25 tons of melted brass cannons, and sixteen workmen squeezed inside it to sing God Save The King.
Riding In A Carriage
Experience the Royal Borough from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. Two companies operate rides: Orchard Poyle covering Windsor town centre and The Long Walk, and Ascot Carriages covering Windsor Great Park from The Savill Garden. Both companies provide knee rugs and umbrellas in case of chilly weather or showers, and offer rides of 30 minutes to 90 minutes duration.
Did You Know? The carriages frequently star in private events like romantic proposals, weddings and films.
Enjoying The Royal Windsor Horse Show
The UK’s biggest outdoor horse show involves 3,000 competing horses for International Carriage Driving, Showing, Equestrian Display, International Endurance and First Class Jumping. Set in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, the event includes arena displays and activities, and is patronised by Her Majesty The Queen.
Did You Know: An annual highlight is the Shetland Pony Grand National.
Attending Cartier Queen’s Cup Polo
Guards’ Polo Club at Smith’s Lawn hosts one of the world’s greatest spectator polo days and is a ‘must’ in the UK social event calendar, where English society and royalty mix with Hollywood film stars and global music icons. The Cartier Queen’s Cup attracts the sport’s leading players from across the globe and the team sheet always reads like a “who’s who” of polo.
Did You Know? When the Queen attends Guards Club, the Royal Standard flies from the top of the pavilion.
Attending Royal Ascot
Few sporting venues match the 250 year heritage and history of Ascot Racecourse. Tradition, pageantry, fashion and style place Royal Ascot at the centre of the British social calendar and, with £4.5 million in prize money at stake, it is the ultimate stage for the world’s best racehorses. Each day, The Royal Procession makes its way from the Golden Gates along the racecourse and into the Parade Ring. The first race of six each day is at 2.30pm and the last race is at 5.35pm, after which racegoers celebrate their winnings singing around the bandstand.
Did You Know? Each day, the bookmakers take bets on the colour of the Queen’s hat.