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  Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
A colourful history
Kalanisi wins last year's Queen Anne Stakes
Kalanisi wins last year's Queen Anne Stakes
Queen Anne was the founder of the Ascot course, and she is remembered by the opening race of the four-day spectacular, the Queen Anne Stakes.

The monarch, an equestrian sport fan, was taking a carriage ride through the forest near Windsor Castle in 1711 when she came upon a clearing that looked perfect for racing.

The area close to the village of East Cote was bought at a cost of just 558 and she ordered it to be prepared for racing.

And so the Royal racecourse played host to its first race on 11 August that year with 'Her Majesty's Plate of 100 guineas.'

But following the death of Anne, racing at Ascot faded, with her successor King George I disregarding all sports.

The Gold Cup

Racing did return to Ascot in 1720 and it soon became one of Britain's most important racing venues and the Royal meeting one of the great social occasions on the sporting calendar.

The Gold Cup was first run in 1807 and soon established itself as the showpiece race of the Royal meeting.

Contested over two-and-a-half miles it is the longest group One race in Britain.

King George IV initiated the first royal carriage procession on the track in 1825 and it has continued since.

Privileged viewing

While the Queen Anne Stakes gets the meeting underway a race with another royal flavour, the St James' Palace Stakes, takes centre stage on opening day.

The inaugural running of this race was in 1834, and it is regarded as one of the top events over a mile for three-year-old colts and geldings.

The modern day Ascot features three main enclosures from which the general public can view the action.

But the Royal Enclosure is very much restricted to the privileged.

To gain entry, new applicants must be sponsored by existing Royal Enclosure badge holders who have attended more than eight times.

All the action from the Royal Ascot meeting

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