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8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en route)
JUNE 14 to JUNE 21, 2012
6 nights near Ascot and Windsor
4 days/evenings of racing at Ascot, Sandown, and Windsor
Training in and around Lambourn
Special sightseeing in Windsor and to the West
(Please see important special information for this trip
immediately following the day-by-day itinerary description)
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from London or elsewhere.
Arrive in London. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our accommodation at the Oakley Court Hotel in nearby Windsor, to the west of London. We can also collect you in central London if you're already there.
We're choosing to stay out of the city this trip because most of our activities are out this way and we'll thus be saving ourselves a good deal of driving time. Plus the area is very interesting in itself, and London is readily available for those who might want to pop in during the course of the week.
The remainder of your arrival day is free for your adjustment and personal activities, but we always think it's a good idea to stay mobile if it's your first day over from the U.S. For the afternoon we've organized a walking tour of Windsor and Eton, conducted with a private guide, which will include a visit to the Castle. Windsor's Castle, a fortified site which dates back to William the Conqueror nearly a thousand years ago, is also a favored Royal residence – its from here the Queen will come and go during Ascot next week.
We'll conclude our day with some welcome cocktails by The Thames, either in town or back at the hotel.
THE OAKLEY COURT. Atmosphere and tranquility are the hallmarks of this beautiful country house, originally built as a private home in 1859. The public spaces offer traditional English ambiance and the 37 acres of manicured grounds include several hundred yards of frontage on the gently meandering Thames River. For the more actively inclined there's a gym, sauna-and-steam, an indoor pool, and a Par 3 golf course. Our deluxe rooms are located in a quiet modern wing. Please refer to the hotel website www.principal-hayley.com/locations/the-oakley-court.aspx for more details on the property. A full English breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
This morning the men will go for their final fitting and pickup of clothes for Royal Ascot (all measurements will have been sent ahead to the clothier in advance).
Midday we'll motor over to Esher on the southern outskirts of London for a day of racing at Sandown Racecourse. Sandown is one of the more important tracks in England and it hosts a number of Group-level flat races throughout the year, including the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in July, and also jump racing in the winter. It's a great viewing course, being rather compact by European standards, and the long uphill stretch makes for some very drawn-out and exciting finishes.
There are no major races on this pre-Ascot weekend card, just a good display of mid-level English racing and a nice way to get our handicapping feet wet on this trip.
We'll organize an optional group dinner tonight, for those who want to partake on a no-host basis.
This is an OPEN DAY to use as you please. You might want to go into London for part of the day, and some other possibilities would include Oxford (not so far way in the other direction), or even a day-trip into the Cotswolds (a bit further afield). If you can't get enough racing, they are running today at Salisbury to the southwest, and you could work in a stop at Stonehenge on your way. These last two suggestions involve a fair amount of time-and-distance, so please make sure you can do them and still have sufficient juice left for the rest of our busy week.
You might just want to sleep in a bit, have a late Sunday breakfast, and be unambitious.
Next to Newmarket, the largest concentration of training establishments in England is in the three counties to the west of London – Berkshire (where we already are in Windsor), Hampshire, and Wiltshire. We'll head out that way early today.
Although the trainers are well spread out over the three counties, ground zero out here is the town of Lambourn in the midst of the so-called "Valley of the Racehorse". Over 2,000 horses in nearly 50 yards get their work here, aiming at both flat and jumping targets. We'll visit a trainer or two, have a pub lunch, and time permitting, also explore some of the other nearby attractions.
By mid-afternoon we'll be back home, in time to relax and freshen up before the traditional pre-Ascot Monday evening of racing at the local racecourse.
Windsor Racecourse may not have a lot of major racing, but it has atmosphere by the carload. Tall trees, an old-fashioned stand, and a unique figure-8 course layout dictated by its siting on a bend of the Thames all set a tone you won't find anywhere else. We'll have a casual dinner at a paddock-side restaurant, and we'll try not to make it too late of a night.
Opening day at Royal Ascot, also known as "The Tuesday", is one of the best racing days in the world.
The card features a trio of Group 1s: the Queen Anne, over a straight mile for older horses; the St. James's Palace for 3-year-olds over the testing uphill "old" mile; and the five-furlong King's Stand, one of Europe's most important sprints. All three of these races annually have major championship implications.
Supporting events on The Tuesday are the Group 2 Coventry Stakes, an always-anticipated unveiling race for the 2-year-olds, another 2-year-old event at the Listed level, and a marathon handicap over two and a half miles.
We'll leave for the course mid-morning today, to allow us time to recon the layout and get our bearings before the crowd builds up. Then we can settle in over coffee and go over the Racing Post one more time. Once the racing starts there will barely be time for a breath.
Our coffee place and a selected seating location will serve as our rendezvous points throughout the day. You may be able to find a minute for a drink, a bite, or afternoon tea.
Enjoy your first taste of the atmosphere and pageantry that makes Royal Ascot such a special experience. Stroll the entire Royal Enclosure and find your favorite places to view the races and the horses before each race. Get a spot to watch the Royal Procession and the Queen's arrival at the stands. The "common" people-watching is pretty good, too – we don't do racing this way in the U.S.
Day Two of Royal Ascot, The Wednesday is another superb day of racing. The headline event is the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes, a ten-furlong championship-level test for older horses that usually draws the best at this distance from all over Europe. We can hope that this is the race where the sensational Frankel makes his first try at a mile and a quarter. It's a logical spot for it to happen.
There are also two Group 2s -- the 2-year-old fillies' first deb party in the Queen Mary Stakes, and the new Windsor Forest Stakes for older females over a mile. The Group 3 Jersey Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters and a Listed test for 3-year-old fillies help fill out the card.
Another of today's races, although not Group-rated, is among the week's most popular. It's the Royal Hunt Cup, a rich handicap over the straight mile, and it always draws the maximum field of thirty. This competitively-weighted across-the-course cavalry charge attracts one of the biggest betting pools of the year and huge amount of cheering volume from the crowd.
This will be our last evening together as a group. Back at the hotel we'll probably want to reconvene for a last round or two and then have dinner. Hopefully we'll all have some winning stories to tell.
Our organized itinerary ends after breakfast and checkout this morning. If you must go, good luck and travel safely. Transfer to central London or to your departure airport is provided if you are leaving today or extending at the Oakley Court.
If you've a mind to soldier on, there are three more days of racing at Royal Ascot. Thursday is Gold Cup Day and Ladies Day. Friday features the Group 1 Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. We don't recommend the Saturday. The crowds get dramatically bigger starting Thursday and, aside from the great racing on tap the first two days, that's a big reason we emphasize the Tuesday and the Wednesday. The Gold Cup is a one-of-a-kind race, however, and you may want to extend for it. If enough in the group are wanting to continue, we just might decide to stay too and go with you.
SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR THIS TRIP
Royal Ascot has more moving parts than our other trips. All prospective travelers must be accepted for admittance into the Royal Enclosure and there is also a specific dress requirement for men that usually must be arranged in advance. This does make the trip preparations a bit more complicated, but we think that to attend the meeting without being in the Royal Enclosure is to miss a great deal of the unique Royal Ascot experience. It's the only way we recommend going.
Those interested in joining us should first request our normal trip booking package. Please do not request this package until you have decided you want to go on the trip. When we've received back the completed booking documents along with the customary deposit, we'll then initiate the application for Royal Enclosure admittance.
Generally we are able to help get applications succesfully accepted, however that decision is not ours. If for any reason a traveler is not accepted into the Enclosure, we'll regretfully have to cancel his or her booking with us and all deposits paid to us will be fully and promptly refunded.
Once the Royal Enclosure application has been approved, the second step will be the process of obtaining suitable clothing for all men travelers. We'll follow up individually regarding this. Men are of course free to bring their own clothes if they so choose, but in such a case the traveler will be individually accountable for being properly dressed and we cannot be responsible for getting someone inside if they are not. The racecourse can and does turn people away for incorrect attire.
There are also clothing guidelines for women, but they are not as strict and formal as for the men. We'll go over these with women travelers well in advance of the trip.
If you have questions or concerns about any of the above, please feel free to contact us about them. We believe we can get you through the procedures with a minimum of bother and, again, we do feel the Royal Enclosure is worth the extra trouble.
OUR APPROACH TO THE ROYAL MEETING
The concentrated excellence of the racing and the associated color and ceremony of the Meeting are the reasons we enjoy Royal Ascot. We also believe Americans should attend in the Royal Enclosure to maximize their experience. There are sufficient opportunities for eating, drinking, and race viewing within the Royal Enclosure that we don't feel it necessary to include pre-booked hospitality into our trip arrangements.
There are numerous options for reserved hospitality, including one or two that offer marginally better race viewing. These options are very expensive. However, one person's idea of a high price may be another's idea of a reasonable one. We don't like to unnecessarily spend other people's money, but our travelers are of course free to spend their own. Please inquire with us if you would like more information.
APPLICATION & CLOSING DATE
This trip will close on April 13, 2012. Royal Enclosure acceptance, payment in full and all other necessary paperwork must be completed and received by us no later than this date to insure that you will be able to join the group.
Royal Ascot can sell out, so we urge those interested in the trip to get started on the process as soon as possible. It's advisable that we have your application process begun by February 15, 2012.
COME EARLY, STAY LATE:
The itinerary, by design, is full and busy. If you would like a bit more of a leisurely experience, we invite you to consider either coming over earlier and / or staying on after our organized trip ends.
The Oakley Court has promised to accommodate extensions as best they can, but the space is not blocked or guaranteed. This is an extremely busy time of year. Please let us know as soon as possible if you want more time at the hotel.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
The itinerary does not include:
- Six(6) nights lodging at The Oakley Court Hotel near Windsor.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Four(4) escorted days/evenings of racing: two(2) at Royal Ascot, one(1) at Sandown, and one(1) at Windsor, including transportation to and from the racecourse, course admission, and race card. Royal Enclosure admission at Ascot and Premier Enclosure admission at Sandown and Windsor.
- Lunch on one(1) day: in the country on June 18.
- Dinner on one(1) night: at Windsor Racecourse on June 18.
- Afternoon walking tour of Windsor and Eton with a private guide on June 15. Windsor Castle admission included.
- Excursion to the training areas west of Windsor on June 18.
- Transfer on arrival from London airport to the Oakley Court Hotel.
- Transfer on departure from Oakley Court Hotel to London airport. (Please note the trip price includes airport transfers from and to Heathrow Airport. There will be an additional charge for transfers involving Gatwick or other airports, or from and to central London.)
- Assistance in application for admission to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.
- Assistance in obtaining required clothing for Royal Ascot. (Men only). The cost for men's clothing is included in the price of the trip.
- Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
- Welcome cocktails in Windsor.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The Cost of the Trip does not include:
- Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
- Lunch or dinner other than when specifically noted above.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
- Any charges incurred at hotels other than the basic cost of the room, including but not limited to room service, mini-bar, television or video, restaurant or bar service, laundry or dry-cleaning, business services, golf or other activities, and activities arranged through the hotel concierge. (All group members will be required to provide a credit card imprint upon check-in at each hotel to guarantee payment for any individual charges.)
- Excess baggage charges. Please check intra-European air flight baggage allowances.
- Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
- Travel insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages, except for the welcome cocktail hour.
- Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the "Itinerary Includes" summary above.
- Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements we will tip our drivers, farm and barn personnel, and hotel staff on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip anyone who provides them with personal assistance, including special assistance by hotel staff. Please note your principal tour escort does not expect and will not accept a gratuity.
$3,625 per person, based on double occupancy (thirteen or more travelers).
$3,725 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to twelve travelers).
$3,825 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers).
$695 single supplement for women.
$835 single supplement for men.
*Please note we have still not received final pricing for some minor elements of this trip, and the trip price is therefore subject to minor adjustment until we do.
We will attempt to match single travelers wishing to double up and thereby avoid the Single Supplement, however it will always be the single traveler's decision whether or not to accept a roommate. Single travelers on this trip will be accommodated in the same class of room as the double-occupancy travelers (with a somewhat less desirable view to help keep the singles' price down).
Trip prices are subject to change up to thirty(30) days prior to trip departure to reflect fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the United States and the United Kingdom. Dollar prices quoted here are based on the following exchange rate:
1 US $ = 0.641 UK pound // 1 UK pound = 1.56 US $
- Additional Nights at the Oakley Court Hotel, if available: will vary, depending on length of stay and specific nights chosen. Please inquire with us.
- Additional days at Royal Ascot. Please inquire with us.
- Hospitality Options at Royal Ascot. Please inquire with us.
*This trip is designed for eight(8) to sixteen(16) people. Although we will make every effort to make the trip go, we reserve the right to cancel this trip if it has less than eight(8) subscribers. Should we need to do this, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the cost of the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.
*We cannot be responsible for insuring admittance to the Royal Enclosure. This decision is in other hands than ours. Any prospective traveler with us who properly applies for admittance under our guidelines and is subsequently declined admittance may not travel with the group. Should this occur, all payments made to Racing-Europe by the prospective traveler toward the cost of the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.
*Due to circumstances beyond our control, we may find it necessary to change the racing scheduled for June 15 to a different racecourse, and also to change certain other activities in the itinerary from one day to another. The racing days at Royal Ascot would not be affected in such a case and will occur as scheduled in the itinerary.
*You must have a valid passport to enter the United Kingdom.
Training photo © www.actionplus.co.uk
Other photos courtesy of Ascot, Sandown, and Windsor Racecourses,
and the Oakley Court Hotel
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