The rules of Royal Ascot
There is excitement in the horseracing world at the moment as more than 300,000 punters have descended on the Berkshire course for Royal Ascot, a huge sporting and social horseracing occasion, which originated in 1711 when Queen Anne drove from nearby Windsor Castle with her entourage for a day's sport organised at her command. Of course the Royal family themselves turn up ? Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, Zara Philips and of course the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen herself are in attendance this year. The Queen has entered six horses this year, her greatest number of entries ever, and she is known to put wagers on her own horses. Her horse Free Agent won on the last day of Royal Ascot in 2008, giving her her 20th win at Ascot.The meet is known for its opulence and during the course of the five day meet the crowds will consume some 170,000 bottles of champagne, around 10,000 lobsters, 5,000 oysters and 18,000 punnets of strawberries. The meet is also a huge display of flamboyant and exotic hats, with the most extravagant creations making an appearance on Ladies' Day on Thursday. There are so many wagers put on Ascot and it is normal practice to have a bet running on the colour of the monarch's hat for Ladies Day. This year, Royal Punters were toasting the Queen as she wore a predominantly white hat, which had been backed in from 20-1 to 10-1 with bookies William Hill twenty four hours before Ladies Day, but yellow had been the favourite at 4/1.It is not just hats that are taken seriously at Royal Ascot ? it is a day for high fashion and in the Royal Enclosure, a strict dress code must be observed. Women must wear a hat of 'substantial fascinator' and last year organisers tightened the dress code for entry into the Royal Enclosure in an effort to discourage the most extreme fashion faux-pas. Off the shoulder and halter neck dresses, dresses with a strap of less than one inch and miniskirts are all banned. Midriffs must be covered up and trouser suits should be full length and of matching material and colour. Men must wear morning dress with a waistcoat and top hat.It is not just rules on appearance which have tightened for the meet. The reputation of the annual meeting has been somewhat tarnished through drunken misbehaviour so rules of etiquette have been drawn up to ensure that courtesy is maintained. Each racegoer is issued with the nine rules which were written by Debretts, the authority on modern etiquette, and are intended to balance old-school chivalry with the relaxed boisterous mood of a day at the races. The rules cover essentials such as punctuality, how to eat politely, how male patrons should treat their female guests, how to deal with your hangover (quietly), how to be a gracious winner, offering up your seat to someone more in need whilst using public transport, complimenting others and sending a thank you letter if you were someone's guest.