After my altercation with the Ascot administration team about the idiosyncrasies of their website and their weird car parking policy, we decided to get to Ascot early and see how well we could fare with the parking arrangements.
We left home around 09:15 and sailed through the normally congested areas of Bracknell and Ascot. About 7 miles out we started to see colour coded direction signs. Not having any idea what our colour should be I headed for where I thought I wanted to be. Getting close to the racecourse I simply headed for “Owners and Trainers”.
Driving straight into the car park I told the attendant that we had to collect an owner’s pass, and was waved through. This “waving through” continued until a friendly chap directed us to a “4×4” area at the top of a potentially really slippery slope.
After collecting Chrissy’s owner’s badge we found our club manager and his family preparing a picnic for twenty at the other end of the car park. He was distraught because he had brought the frame of a gazebo with no actual protective covering. Another gazebo was on its way.
Gradually the company began to assemble. Several, by hook or by crook, had acquired “Royal Enclosure” passes and were in full regalia. The Gazebo arrived and on cue it began to rain as soon as the structure was in place. With insufficient space within, some of us headed for the racecourse.
I had to pass through a turnstile with my newly acquired discount ticket (£55 instead of the gate price of £77). Chrissy, with her “Owner’s” ticket had to squeeze through a small gap and leap a pot of flowers to avoid the turnstile.
Once in the grounds we found that since our last visit to Royal Ascot the Royal Enclosure has been expanded in random directions to restrict access for the Premium Price mid-level customers.
It began to rain hard. Dangerously wielded brollies appeared from all sides. My minuscule folding parapluie apparatus failed in all respects (erection, protection, repacking). I tried to throw it into a bin, but Chrissy tucked it into her handbag for the duration of the day and for future attempts.
Meanwhile I started to notice and count those who had successfully flouted the dress code. I spotted four “not suits” and eight bow ties, so my previous three days shenanigans (see previous post) had been in vain. It appears that Royal Ascot has very strict rules that nobody actually checks.
Trying to bet on the first race we joined two queues, both of which were headed by chaps apparently reading the menu and asking for information on how to actually place a bet. With just one minute left to the “off” Chrissy managed to place both of our ultimately useless bets.
For the rest of the day I used my ‘phone for on-line betting. I managed to select the second-placed horse to win in each of the first five races. For the last race I selected, of course, our club horse at odds of 66:1 in a field of 23 horses.
It rained heavily every time we stepped outside, except just before “our” race. I joined our group in the saddling enclosure but had to absent myself from the Parade Ring.
We decided to watch the race from the terrace, with Chrissy in the Owners’ section and me just over the fence in the lower orders enclosure. It felt a bit like the film “Titanic”, even more so when Chrissy was asked to move because she had accidentally invaded a private party!
Before the race started a loose horse ran the course on its own. It received an enormous cheer, but the jockey was not at all pleased. Anyway, our horse came 17th of 21 runners. Just about as expected considering the opposition, but we were pleased to have even qualified for Royal Ascot.
Our best win of the day was free car parking when other club members had paid £45 to park miles away from the club base.
If anyone is into horse racing and wants to enjoy the kudos of part ownership of (currently) 11 racehorses, with opportunities for stable visits and free race days with a group of new friends for a very reasonable monthly subscription, check out www.britishracingclub.co.uk
In conclusion, our best win of the day was blagging free car parking (to which we were actually entitled, but encouraged by the racecourse to ignore) and the fact that we were actually there.
And today Frankie Dettori made up all my losses from yesterday thrice with his “four in a row” wins!