Royal Ascot: The reality, part 2

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.

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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!

Royal Ascot. The reality

Life chez Whiskers

Last week:

Our horse racing syndicate has declared a horse to run at Royal Ascot.  There is about a 40-50% chance that it will be selected from the 54 entries.


Our horse is running!  There is now a chance that we may receive owners’ tickets.  Immediately check the dress code.

Ladies: just outdo everyone else, dress for an important occasion and wear a hat.

Gents: matching trousers and jacket. Socks over the ankle, collared shirt and tie.  What?! No bow ties!(apparently this year’s theme is style, colour and material).

Bow ties used to be acceptable.  I have about 40 of them but no “normal” ties.

Order sent to Amazon for silk tie, pocket square and cufflinks combo.  Secondary order for silk waistcoat, tie and pocket square combo.  Confirmed delivery Tuesday, with racing on Wednesday.

Memsahib chooses her dress, tries on two matching hats bought for racing and rejects them.

To Windsor races in the evening, where we discover that our chance of winning tickets in the ballot is around 1/4 to 1/5.


09:40.  I have been drawn for a ticket.  I ask for this to be transferred to the Memsahib and I will buy a discounted ticket for  £55 (instead of £77) with fewer privileges.  We spend an hour seeking dog care, and one of Her friends comes to the rescue.  Then off to town to buy a new hat, and maybe an emergency tie.

Four hours later.  We come home with a new trouser belt for me; two hats, a pair of shoes, a handbag and a jacket for Herself.  My Amazon package is on the doorstep.

Everything is tried on.  Handbag is rejected, maybe…

Waistcoat is perfect, if only it was two sizes smaller (i.e. the actual size stated on the label).  Memsahib offers to take it in.  I tell her “not today!”  Repacked for return.  Activate plan B for me. Existing clothes with new “club” tie.

Memsahib searches for the belt for her dress.  We start working on plan B, C, D, ….

I search for parking arrangements, knowing in which car park we will meet to collect our tickets and socialise before racing.  Ascot website is a nightmare of circular cross-references and “404” failures.  Eventually I find that “advance parking tickets” may only be bought on the day with cash.  I send an e-mail to Ascot Racecourse Customer Service asking how they administer this bizarre arrangement.

I check the best route to try to ensure that we are directed to the correct, or at least to a reasonably close, car park when we get there.  I don’t need to walk two or three miles in high heels, but I still don’t want to walk that distance in any case.   Wherever we go it will cost at least £45 to dump the car in a muddy field.  (Strangely you can park a car for £45, a bus for £90 but a limo is £253.  Someone knows how to rip off people with more money than common sense!)

And so to bed, wondering if it will actually be worth the money and the stress…

My life. Upate 5th February 2018

What’s been happening since my last post on 24th January?
I have asked three times for the scaffolding around our house to be removed, so far to no effect. Actually it may be a “Good Thing” that it is still there because I discovered that the builders have installed guttering to the side of our flat-roof extension but have forgotten to divert the down-pipe into that guttering.

This not only makes a disturbing noise when it rains but is not useful for the long-term preservation of the felt roof.

There is no progress yet on re-roofing of the man-cave/workshop. The inside of the roof and joists are developing mildew, so I have installed an oil-filled radiator to help keep the place dry until a proper roof can be fitted.
Over the weekend my wife and I independently came up with the idea that a clear plastic corrugated roof would have drained better and let in more light at the expense of temperature. Ho-hum. Spilt milk, no use crying over.

Some of my MDF war game tokens in use in the shed  have also gone a bit “furry” in the past week, and needed a clean-up.

I have progressed the end stages of the Battle of Brighton by another five minutes (Wow!). The British are extracting their forces while the Germans keep up the pressure. Once the Germans hold Brighton they will have another port (Shoreham) to begin unloading armoured forces. Currently only Rye and Newhaven are available. Brighton is area 38 in the map below.

On other wargaming fronts most of the progress is with evening painting sessions. Due to my recent extreme fatigue from mid-afternoon onwards I have not made much progress, but to keep up the variety I am using one paint-pot at a time for at least four projects. Lately it has been grass-green bases for my 2mm 1700 and 3mm WW2 troops, and for the “Battle Chess” game that I am developing for our young re-enactors.

I have now moved on to “Horse Tone Brown”, which will give me plenty to do.

Health-wise, I continue to improve, apart from the general feeling of lassitude.  I walk the dog twice a day which keeps me active. I try to walk at least 4-5 Km each day.  There are good days and bad days.  I am sure that I will feel more positive WHEN (not IF) I get the “all-clear” from cancer* at the end of the month.

Last Thursday we made a trip to North Somerset (near Minehead) – a 7 hour, 300 mile round-trip, to visit the yard where one of our British Racing Club horses is in training. Festival Dawn (photo) looked to be in good form on the gallops, and we had an interesting tour by the yard manager who showed us all his lists and procedures.

I was impressed by the way that Philip Hobbs runs His training yard, particularly that the employees who look after and ride the horses on a daily basis where possible accompany “their” horse to the races, rather than having  separate travelling staff and yard staff.  A good day out with my wife and dog.

* With the recent news that Prostate Cancer is now killing 7,000 men each year in the UK and has overtaken Breast Cancer in numbers, I am campaigning for the charity Prostate Cancer UK, and for a nationwide screening programme.  I think (and hope) I am one of the lucky escapees.  Please, gentlemen, get yourselves checked and donate if you can.  A heart-felt “Thank You”