Like many little girls growing up in the countryside, as a kid I was obsessed with horses. You name it, if it was horse-related I did it: Pony Club, week-long equestrian camps, dressage, show jumping, grooming… the lot.
Yet as an adult I’d never been to the races. Undoubtedly one of the most glamorous days out for us Brits, whether we enjoy a good dose of dressage or not, it had never been on my radar. Until official textile suppliers to Ascot, Christy, invited me along to the first day of the Royal meeting.
I immediately said “yes please!”, giving my friend Hayley a ring to tell her to buy a hat, quick sharp. We were off to the races!
You’ll think you haven’t heard of Christy but you will have, if not conciously: not only do they sell luxurious textiles for the home but they’re also the supplier of towels to some of Britain’s most prestigious sporting events: Royal Ascot and Wimbledon. They’re as much of a British institution as the events they supply, with a heritage dating back to 1850, and I can confirm after a very scientific test (wrapping myself in one of their horse head-adorned towels) that they are as soft and luxurious as their history promises.
And so this Tuesday Hayley and I hopped off in our car for a day of fun, frocks and horses – I caused quite the stir on the school run in my dress and updo!
We arrived at Ascot in the heat at about 11.30 and happily trotted through the entranceway in our heels. The place is vast – a cacophony of gorgeous dresses, outlandish headgear and smart suits, I went from feeling mega overdressed on the school run to wondering if I’d made enough of an effort. Ascot really is the place for women to get creative with their headgear.
We were in the Queen Anne enclosure, an area next to the Royal enclosure. We’d be dining in the Sandringham restaurant, which was thankfully air conditioned and had a lovely terrace overlooking the finish line. It was a pretty glorious place to be stationed to watch our first ever Ascot meet.
We were seated with some other Christy bloggers – Jen from Love Chic Living, Charlotte from The Home That Made Me and Olivia Cox. Enjoying the Champagne reception (I mean, who wouldn’t?) we devoured the menu and got to know each other.
I wasn’t sure what I expected from Royal Ascot but the vibe was something of a jovial posh wedding: absolutely everyone was dressed to the nines (they turned a lady away from our restaurant because she wasn’t wearing a hat) and, despite the amount of Champers flying around, on their very best behaviour.
The food was glorious: smoked salmon, lamb and chocolate, followed by coffees and petit fours. I sidestepped these to have a go at betting, something I’ve never done before bar a work Grand National sweepstake.
Luckily enough I have a boyfriend who’s pretty hot on his horseracing, so he sent me a text with his tips (saying “don’t put all your money on these!”). Of course, I immediately headed to the betting booth to put a tenner on each of his recommendations. It was worth it, I was 50 quid up by the end of the day – bonus!
Absolute highlights of the day for me included watching the Royal Procession – we saw the Queen! – and being taken to the Owners Enclosure by our Ascot guide. This is where the Royals roam, chatting to jockeys and racehorse owners alike, and standing there in the sunshine surrounded by horses and aristocracy was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. If 14 year old Pony Club-fanatic Alice could have foretold that: WOW.
The stars of the show were, of course, the animals and their riders. Absolutely incredible, they were a joy to watch compete and we all marvelled and their talent and hard work. It was so exciting to see them all come in to finish their races – and even more exciting if we’d placed a successful bet!
Before long Afternoon Tea was served and we ducked in and out in between races, scoffing sandwiches and delicate sweets as we could. Christy really do look after you at Royal Ascot and soon the Pimms started flowing as we nattered about life and the universe… and horses!
We summoned our carriages at around half past six, walking past the beautiful bandstand full of racegoers, Union Jacks fluttering as they belted out proper British classics like Jerusalem and Rule Brittania. What a scene that was.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our day with Christy at Royal Ascot. It was such a pleasure to be involved in an event that’s such a British institution, and to be there with one of the event sponsors (and my lovely friend Hayley!) was just the icing on the cake.
Thank-you so much to Christy for such a wonderful day out: I can say with certainty I’ll be back next year.
Hayley and I were lucky guests of Christy at Royal Ascot.