City Woman: Cheap and Chic at Royal AscotBy Leigh Mencarini
May 06, 2009
Fancy a day at the races but feeling the pinch? Organisers of Royal Ascot 2009 have given City Woman some hints on how to make the best of what you can afford at the racecourse
It's been the ultimate social event in the Berkshire calendar for almost 300 years – so if you’re heading to Royal Ascot this year, you’ll want to pull out all the stops.
Steeped in tradition, heritage and pageantry, Royal Ascot is the most famous race meeting in the world. The horses, the stands, the summer sunshine and the cream of British culture; it’s an event defined by fun, style and glamour, enjoyed by royalty and the country’s fashionable jet set.
This year the event runs between Tuesday, June 16, and Saturday, June 20, and if you’re going you’ll want to feel part of the spectacle. As well as dressing to impress, you’ll want the best of everything the day has to offer – from travel arrangements to dining with style.
But as we’re all feeling the pinch right now, it’s worth planning ahead to ensure you get the best out of what you can afford.
The organisers of Royal Ascot 2009 have put together some tips for the City Woman who’s planning a day at the races on a budget.
You’re more than likely to be heading to Ascot with friends, so why not car share or rent a minibus – you never know, between you there might be enough to hire a limo!
Or you can travel by train. Ascot Station is only a seven minute walk from the racecourse, and SouthWest Trains runs a regular service from Reading from as little as £5.70 return.
It’s an obvious one but it’s so true – book early. Especially since an early booking discount applies until midnight on Thursday, May 14.
Group bookings of 10 or more also benefit from a discount rate, with prices starting from £12.72 per person.
Make sure you choose which kind of admission you’ll need. For excellent facilities and a decent view of the Royal Procession as well as all the racing action from the lawns, admission for the Grandstand area is ideal as the Parade Ring and track are within a short walking distance.
Or opt for the less formal Silver Ring admission. It doesn’t include access to the Parade Ring or main Grandstand, but you still get great views of the Royal Procession and the racing action, plus a variety of places to eat, drink and bet. Prices start from just £13.70 per person.
If you’re after a quick snack or a three-course meal, there’s plenty of choice at the course.
Treat yourself with an elegant fine dining package, or a quintessentially English afternoon tea.
But then, what could be more traditionally English than a picnic? Pack up your favourites in a wicker basket and picnic in the car parks before entering the racecourse area. Picnics can be enjoyed in the Silver Ring area, too.
Champagne is usually the order of the day at the races; it’s nice to splash out on some bubbly and bring some sparkle to a special summer’s day if you can.
However, there’s a new drink on the circuit that’s been dubbed the ‘must try’ beverage of the season – the Royal Blush, left.
A fusion of Bombay Sapphire gin and Chambord Raspberry liqueur, it’s a long sparking drink served with ice and a twist of lime. Perfectly pink and refreshing, the official event cocktail promises to taste as gorgeous as it looks.
It’s the social event of the year so you’ll want to dress to impress.
But don’t panic – it is perfectly do-able on a budget. Why not raid your wardrobe and update last year’s summer dress with some stand-out accessories?
Pull in your waist with a high belt or thick ribbon, sew on some dazzling jewels or liven up a flat block colour by stitching in some patterned panels to revamp an old favourite.
If you’re not quite brave enough with the pinking shears, rummage through your local charity shops and find a vintage beauty (everybody loves a touch of retro) or even recycle that old bridesmaid dress – don’t forget cheap can still be chic!
For more information about Royal Ascot 2009 ticket prices, visit www.ascot.co.uk or call 0870 727 1234.