Once again we had a last-minute change to our best-laid plans at the July 4th Summer Social! And once again, someone stepped in at the last minute to fill the gap!
That someone was Barbara Faulkner, and the subject of her talk was “Ladies’ Day at Ascot”, which proved very entertaining, with a mixture of history, general knowledge and humour – not to mention some horse-racing for audience participation!
Barbara told us that Ascot Racecourse is one of the leading race-courses in the United Kingdom, and has close associations with the Royal Family. It was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, and cost £600 to build. In 1813 Parliament passed an act to ensure that the grounds would remain a public racecourse. In the 200 years since, it has had over £200 million spent on its development which has made it one of the most prestigious racecourses in the world.
The centre-piece of Ascot’s year is Royal Ascot, held each year in June. It is a five day meeting and is attended each day by the Queen and members of the Royal Family, just as it was in Queen Anne’s time, with a carriage procession down the course marking their arrival as well as their departure.
The most important race of the week is The Gold Cup, inaugurated in 1807and to this day regarded as the most important long-distance horse race held on the flat anywhere in the world. The race was traditionally attended by the richest gentlemen in society and their accompanying ladies, who all dressed to outdo one another in the Royal Enclosure. Thus the occasion was dubbed by the press as ‘Ladies’ Day’.
Barbara told us that she normally gives advance notice to the groups she talks to and gets them to wear posh frocks and fancy hats so that they can create something of the atmosphere of the Royal Enclosure on Gold Cup Day!
At intervals during the talk we were given the chance to take part in different horse races, using toy horses on a board, their progress governed by the rolling of a dice and moved by each table’s jockey. Prizes were given out and there was even a Gold Cup race – with a Gold Cup presented to the winning horse’s owner by none other than the Queen herself! (Barbara in a tiara!)
Although we weren’t dressed for Royal Ascot or Ladies’ Day the Vine Lounge was decorated with red, white and blue balloons, flags and red and white tablecloths as a tribute to American Independence Day, the date being July 4th, so there was certainly a festive feel to the evening! Even the raffle prizes were wrapped in red, white and blue paper! The evening ended with a buffet supper, and much chat and merriment!
Our next meeting is our 45th Birthday Outing to Sandringham on 18th July, and then there’s the Summer Barbeque on August to look forward to! If you would like to find out more about us, why not visit our website at http://www.capelladies.com, or give Di Barker a ring on 311870 – you might be tempted to join us in the autumn!