Fancy Hats and Horses

22:00 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

One of my favorite British things (besides high tea) are the hats. They were first drawn to my attention at the Royal Wedding, and while wedding is probably the more common function for a good hat, I found another. The Ascot.

The biggest occasion for the Ascot is the Royal Ascot where the hats are taken to a whole new level. That, plus all the special rules for dress, such as woman must wear dresses with sleeves at least one inch thick, even if a cardigan or blazer are covering the dress, or if they wear a pant suit, it must be both matching colour and fabric. Or for men, they need to wear tails and a top hat!

But, alas, we were in Norway this weekend and missed out on this glorious festivity.

I was not to be deterred though. The Ascot hosts other races throughout the year, so we found one in early September that was the Food & Wine Festival. Perfect? I think so.

So we joined our friends the Houses for a day at the races! We bought premier tickets, as these had a 'stricter' dress code, which I thought would mean more hats. Sarah and I decked ourselves out in our fanciest hats for the occasion.

Striking a post in front of the track where
the winners are paraded
The most difficult thing about a fancy hat? Not knocking someone else in the head while trying to pose close to them for a photo.

Fancy hats call for fancy dress

Besides the hats, there was lots to do at the races. With our premier tickets, we had access to everything but the boxes, meaning we could head to the top of the trackside building to sit down and watch the races, or enjoy a glass of bubbly.

We also had the chance to get right next to the trackside. This was much more in the action, because you could see the horses as they raced past. In the 30 minutes between races, this was also the place you wanted to be to place your bet.

Ascot building and other race goers waiting for the action

Each stand had information on the upcoming race - the horses and the odds on each.  Most of the time, the odds were the same, but once you knew your chosen horse, you had to try to get yourself the best deal. We were small time gamblers, usually just 5 quid, but the bets could go up much higher.

I'll put 5 on 7!

After I picked a horse (most often based on the name), we waited, admiring the track, the pretty day and chatting. Once the races started, the game was on though! Sarah and Paul ended up winners for the day, each winning about enough to cancel out our loses. Perhaps I need to go again next year so I can find my winning horse!

And they're off - til next time!

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