Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from London or elsewhere.
|Arrive in London. You'll be met at the airport and transferred to our accommodation at the Oakley Court Hotel in Windsor, to the west of London and strategically located for Ascot. We can also pick you up in central London if you're already there.
The remainder of your arrival day is free for your adjustment and personal interests. We always advise staying active if it's your first day over from the U.S, and nearby Windsor town is full of atmosphere and history. In the late afternoon we'll rendezvous at the hotel and take advantage of the Oakley Court's Thames-side location and have a get-acquainted cocktail hour while cruising for a bit on England's most famous river.
Back at the hotel you can choose to make it a quiet and early night, or join in on the no-host dinner we'll have booked at a nice in-town Windsor restaurant.
THE OAKLEY COURT. Originally built as a private home in 1859, the hotel sits on 37 acres of landscaped grounds on the banks of the Thames River. The public spaces offer traditional English country house ambiance and peacefulness, and our deluxe rooms are in a quiet modern wing. There's a gym, sauna-and-steam, and an indoor pool on the property, as well as a short-hole golf course. You can learn more at the hotel's website www.oakleycourt.co.uk. A full English breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
|This morning the men will go into Windsor 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 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 again 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 could go into London for the day, and 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 Thoroughbred 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 freshen up and change silks before the traditional pre-Ascot Monday evening at Windsor's local racecourse.
The Windsor Monday evenings are a regular and highly agreeable part of the English racing summer, with atmosphere rather than major racing as the primary ingredient. The quirky figure-8-shaped course is set into a bend of the Thames and can sometimes take the horses completely out of view. For the longer races you have time for a short walk across the infield and a close-up of the start, and still get back to the finish line to see the field come back by again going in the opposite direction. Windsor shows off English racing at its eccentric best.
We'll have premier enclosure badges and seating for a casual dinner at a paddock-side restaurant.
|Opening day at Royal Ascot, often referred to as "The Tuesday", is one of the very 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 give us the 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 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 surroundings and rituals that make 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. There are also two Group 2s -- the 2-year-old fillies' first deb party in the Queen Mary Stakes, and the recently re-named Duke of Cambridge 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 much high-volume urging from the crowd.
This will be our last scheduled evening together as a group, and we'll be renewing a Racing-Europe tradition by having a post-race no-host dinner at the 400-year-old Thatched Tavern in nearby Cheapside. (It's one of the few things around here that's been going on longer than Ascot itself.) We always have a great time here and we hope everyone will be on board, but we can certainly arrange transport for those who want to go straight back to the hotel.
|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're still on your toes, 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 and a good undercard. 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 in our program. The Gold Cup, however, is Ascot's oldest event and a true one-of-a-kind race. You may want to extend for it and, if enough in the group are wanting to continue, we just might decide to stay on 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 makes 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 ultimate 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 payments 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 aren't 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 spend other people's money unnecessarily, 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 10, 2015. 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 as soon as possible. It's advisable that we have your application process begun by February 1, 2015.
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 week for the hotel. Please let us know as soon as possible if you want more time there.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
- 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 15.
- Dinner on one(1) night: at Windsor Racecourse on June 15.
- Thames River cruise with welcome cocktails on June 12.
- Excursion to the training areas west of Windsor on June 15.
- 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.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The itinerary 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 does not include:
- 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 cruise.
- 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 their incoming and outgoing transfer drivers and anyone else 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.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
$3,875 per person, based on double occupancy (thirteen or more travelers).
$3,975 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to twelve travelers).
$4,125 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers).
$825 single supplement for women.
$965 single supplement for men.
*Please note we have still not received final pricing for some 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 always 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 price estimates quoted here are based on the following exchange rate:
1 US $ = 0.637 UK pound // 1 UK pound = 1.57 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 13 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,
the Oakley Court Hotel, Kay Minton, and Julie Brewster
View the Itinerary for our other 2015 trips:
For June (Ireland), click here
For September-October (France), click here