As we continue our build up to Royal Ascot, Channel 4 Racing presenter Clare Balding shares her thoughts on what makes the Royal Meeting like nowhere else.
Royal Ascot is unlike any sporting event in the world. With its unique blend of racing, royalty and romance it provides a week of thrilling sport, outstanding entertainment and high class fashion. With over 300,000 people attending over the five days, it is one if the most popular live events in the UK but its appeal is so broad that TV pictures will be beamed across the globe.
For every owner, jockey and trainer, the ultimate dream is to walk into the Winner's Enclosure but even having a runner here or just being a spectator, is special. The colour, the big hats, the noise of the betting ring, the roar of the crowd as a race reaches its climaxand the singing round the bandstand give Royal Ascot a buzzing atmosphere as everyone shares the thrill of a live sporting event. Wonderful social occasion it may be, but it's the Royal Procession and the gleaming high class horses that are the focus of everyone's attention.
It is undoubtedly the highlight of the flat season. The best horses from around the world are drawn by races for every age group and over every distance from 5 furlongs to nearly three miles. You can go from a handicap with 30 runners to a Group 1 race with a field of 8, from a six furlong dash to the 6f sprint to the oldest and most prestigious two mile race in the world, the Gold Cup.
The range and quality of the racing is sensational but more than anything, I love seeing everyone dressed up, smiling and enjoying themselves. Whether they are dedicated form experts or have come for the social occasion, Royal Ascot is an unforgettable experience.
For me, it is the best week of flat racing in the world.
Tickets for this year's Royal Ascot are proving as popular as ever, with the Queen Anne Enclosure and Windsor Enclosure sold out for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
We still have availability on the opening two days of the Royal Meeting, while upgrades that include Queen Anne Enclosure admission are still available across all five days. For all latest availability and to book please click here