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Royal Ascot 2010: Rules for the racing rookie
by Emma Midgley
BBC Berkshire Reporter

Winners at Royal Ascot
Race-goers celebrate a win at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is the jewel in the crown of the racing calendar, where everyone from the royal family to hen parties can enjoy betting on horses.

Find out the history of the Ascot Grandstand and how to place a bet if you're a racing rookie.

A step-by-step guide to placing a bet with a bookmaker

1. Look at your race card and select a horse you like the look of.

2. You then have two choices.

You can place a bet to win (meaning the horse has to finish first) or each-way (meaning the horse must finish in first three or four, depending how many runners there are in the race).

An each-way bet is twice the cost, as you are placing one bet on the horse to win and another bet on the horse to be placed.

3. Go to the bookmaker and give him the following information: the name of the horse you want to back, the stake and the type of bet. For example, 'Can I have £5 to win on Red Carnival or, if you want an each way bet, you would say 'Can I have £5 each way on Red Carnival'. An each way bet on your horse for £5 will cost you £10.

4. When paying for your bet, you again have two choices.

If you back the horse at the 'odds' you get will be the official starting price, declared after the race. However, if you wish, you can choose to back the horse at the price currently offered by the bookmaker by telling them that you wish to 'take the price'.

Doing so guarantees you the specific odds that are on offer at the time. So, even if the horse's price drops later on, you will still collect at the larger price.

5. The bookmaker will hand you back a copy of the betting slip which you should retain, to allow you to collect your winnings.

6. Then comes the exciting bit when you watch the race.

7. Should you be lucky enough to have backed the winner, or your each-way bet has been placed, you will need to return to the bookmaker (there are lots at Royal Ascot, so make a mental note of where their pitch is) and present your betting slip before being rewarded with (hopefully!) a generous sum of money.

If your horse has lost, simply tear up your ticket and hope for better luck next time.

The history

It was Queen Anne who first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot, which in those days was called East Cote. Whilst out riding in 1711, she came upon an area of open heath, not far from Windsor Castle, that looked an ideal place for "horses to gallop at full stretch."

The first race meeting ever held at Ascot took place on Saturday 11 August 1711. Her Majesty's Plate, worth 100 guineas and open to any horse, mare or gelding over the age of six, was the inaugural event. Each horse was required to carry a weight of 12st and seven runners took part.

Today the tradition does not change - the Queen Anne Stakes continues to be run in memory of the monarch who founded the course nearly three centuries ago.

Ascot grandstand
The new grandstand which opened in 2006

The original Ascot racecourse was laid out by William Lowen, who was assisted by a team of helpers, William Erlybrown, a carpenter, Benjamin Cluchett, a painter, and John Grape, who prepared the paper work for racing.

The first permanent building on the course was constructed in about 1794 by George Slingsby, a Windsor builder. It held 1,650 people and was used until 1838.

Today's Royal Ascot grandstand was completed in 2006 following a two year £200 million redevelopment.

The official opening of the new grandstand took place on the first day of the Royal Meeting, with an opening speech from Her Majesty The Queen, who owns the racecourse.


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