Royal Ascot opening day sees thousands of well-heeled punters arrive

Racegoer Chelsea Baker during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.

Racegoer Chelsea Baker during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.

Racegoers have hailed Royal Ascot’s “fabulous” traditions and fashions as the famous race meeting welcomed thousands of well-dressed punters.

Royal Ascot’s opening day will see the Queen joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and other members of the monarchy in the royal box.

Racegoers in their hats during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

Racegoers in their hats during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

But before racing begins a minute’s silence will be observed for the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and the London and Manchester terror attacks.

Haute couture designer Isabell Kristensen has for many years been a fan of the Berkshire race meeting which is as much a social occasion as a celebration of sport.

She said: “It’s the fabulous tradition of Ascot that keeps me coming back, I love the horses, I like to gamble - although I always lose. It’s fantastic to come here and see clients and friends and have a glass of champagne.

“And I love seeing the fashion, what people are wearing - it’s a fabulous fashion show.”

Racegoers in the stands during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

Racegoers in the stands during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

Stephanie del Valle, the current Miss World, said in her homeland of Puerto Rico she was a big fan of the sport of kings.

She said: “I’ve heard so much about Royal Ascot, my family are all big fans of horse racing and I practically grew up at the race track back home, so coming here is so exciting.”

Following the arrival of the Queen and royal party in the parade ring, the crowds will pay their respects to those who died in recent events.

The Queen marked her official birthday on Saturday by issuing a statement acknowledging the “succession of terrible tragedies”, and observed a minute’s silence before the Trooping the Colour ceremony began.

Johnny Weatherby, chairman of Ascot Racecourse, said: “We have all been deeply saddened by recent tragic events around the country.

“At the beginning of this important week for racing, we at Ascot Racecourse wish to pay our respects to the victims and offer support to the families who have been so terribly affected.”

The racecourse is making a donation of £100,000 to the British Red Cross UK Solidarity and London Fire Relief Funds and local charities to support those affected.

Exit collections on all five days of Royal Ascot will take place to enable racegoers to contribute.

The Queen has written a foreword to Tuesday’s official programme and highlighted the huge number of racegoers, and entered horses from across the globe, that make Royal Ascot such a “unique” event.

William and Kate will present a trophy during the day, as will Charles and Camilla, double Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper Nick Skelton and actor Laurence Fox, best known for his role in the TV crime drama Lewis.

The Queen said in her foreword: “The tremendous racing and the gathering of 300,000 people and more than 400 horses from around the world makes this event unique.

“Last year, horses trained outside Great Britain won 14 of the 30 races and I am again delighted to welcome many overseas competitors.

“In 1711, Queen Anne declared Ascot to be ‘ideal for horses to gallop at full stretch’. Ever since, the finest horses have raced here and that will certainly be the case again this week.”

Also joining the Queen will be the Duke of York and his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, as well as the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn, and Diana, Princess of Wales’ sister Lady Jane Fellowes and her husband Lord Fellowes.