Queen to join thousands of racegoers at Royal Ascot


The Queen will join thousands of racegoers this week as world-famous Royal Ascot gets under way today.

Fresh from her birthday celebrations, the 90-year-old monarch - who has attended every royal meeting during her reign - will join the well-coiffed masses at the annual racing event in Berkshire.

As a passionate horse owner the Queen will no doubt be hoping for a win when her horse, Dartmouth, runs in the Hardwicke Stakes on Thursday.

More than 20 of her thoroughbreds have triumphed at Royal Ascot in previous years, and bookmaker William Hill has odds of 11/8 that the Queen will own a winner this week.

William Hill has also made blue the 2-1 favourite for the colour of the Queen's hat on the opening day.

Jon Ivan-Duke, a spokesman for the bookmakers, said: "We have had our first gamble on the Queen's hat today with almost 85% of bets for blue.

"We think the gamble is based on the chilly weather forecast when blue would perhaps be more appropriate than yellow."

Rumours are rife that the annual event will attract the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this year.

William Hill has suspended the book on the royal couple making their first appearance at the meet, and are offering odds of 10-1 that Prince George will come along too.

Met Office forecaster Alex Burkill said showers would persist on Tuesday afternoon, but could turn "hefty" on Wednesday.

But the weather will improve as the week goes on, he said, turning more settled by Saturday.

Royal Ascot - one of the highlights of the racing and social calendar - attracts many of the world's finest horses to compete for more than £6.58 million in prize money.

It was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and is the centrepiece of the racing year at Ascot Racecourse.

The style spectacle is known for its strict dress code in the Royal and Queen Anne enclosures, where ladies must wear hats.

Around 300,000 racegoers attend Royal Ascot each year and make their way through 51,000 bottles of champagne, almost 3,000 lobsters and 50,000 macaroons.