It would be untrue to say that there is no more important meeting at Ascot than the King George Meeting, given the fact that this is the venue that hosts Royal Ascot every year, but the race is important enough to warrant its own weekend in the calendar. It is flat racing at its finest, usually showing off everything that the area has to offer in the midsummer months.
That means that you can expect to find a racecourse in full bloom and an atmosphere filled with electricity and excitement. Those in attendance at the meeting are usually keen to show off their summer outfits.
The centrepiece is unquestionably the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which is usually referred to simply as the ‘King George’. That doesn’t mean that the other races taking place on the day should be forgotten about, though.
This is a meeting that takes advantage of the wonderful flat racing circuit at Ascot Racecourse, with horses asked to take on the challenges of the venue with the pageantry and flag-waving that accompanies the week of Royal Ascot. Of course, those that attend can also enjoy the afterparty at the bandstand on the Saturday night.
About the Weekend
It isn’t exactly a shock to learn that Ascot is a racecourse filled with history, but most people would probably associate that with the week of Royal Ascot. It means that the likes of the King George weekend can get forgotten, even though the race itself could make an argument for being the most prestigious flat race of the year.
There is something of a party feel during the course of the weekend, albeit a party in a country house owned by people whose jewellery is worth more than most people earn in a year. It is a garden party for those that love top-class racing.
Royal Ascot is obviously much more formal and, for want of a better phrase, stuck up, than most race meetings, which is why many enjoy the King George weekend a little bit more. That is perhaps best summed up by the party that takes place on the Saturday night, with everyone heading to the bandstand once the final race of the day has run its course. Just because it’s less formal doesn’t meant that it doesn’t still have a Royal sensibility; Queen Elizabeth II would often turn up to watch the main race of the day. With that in mind, you shouldn’t be surprised if you see a few celebrities around the place.
King George Weekend Schedule
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is not only the feature race of the weekend but also one of the most prestigious races on the British flat racing calendar.
Whilst it is obviously the event that most people will be looking out for, there are other races that take place. Here is a look at how the weekend pans out:
There is no question that the Saturday is the more exciting of the two days, but that doesn’t mean that the Friday should be ruled out altogether. The exact races that are run can be changed from time to time, but generally speaking you’ll be getting a decent mix of handicaps and other races that take advantage of the good weather than makes flat racing season so exciting. There isn’t a feature race, as such, with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes being the overwhelmingly most important race of the weekend, but it’s a good set of fixtures to get you ready for the main event.
Whilst the racing may mostly be aimed at aficionados more than casual observers when it comes to the Friday of the King George meeting, what goes on off the course is ideal for everyone. The feeling of it being a time to let your hair down and get into the party spirit is all-pervading for those that find themselves physically at Ascot Racecourse, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t join in at home. Why not pour yourself a gin and tonic and unbutton your shirt to really feel as though you’re at Ascot rather than just in your own living room?
The exact races that are run can be changed from time to time, but here is how the race card will look if everything goes to plan:
Whilst the Friday has plenty to offer, there is no question that it is the Saturday when things really heat up on the King George weekend. Yes, the feature race of the weekend takes centre stage, but so many of the other races are also worthy of your attention. The Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes is one such example, with the Pat Eddery Stakes being another one. They’re not on the same level as the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but they’re Group 3 offerings that will be more than good enough for even the most casual racegoer to enjoy.
As with the Friday, it almost as much about what is taking place off the course as it is about what is happening on it. The racing will always be the most important part of any race meeting, but it also worth mentioning that the grandstand is the place to be when the racing is over. It is one of the highlights of the Ascot social scene, with a party taking place on the Saturday night that allows those in attendance to dance the night away. Obviously that’s not something that you will be involved in if you’re just watching at home, but it’s something to bear in mind for the future.
Here is a look at how the race card will look this year:
- 13:15 British EBF Crocker Bulteel Maiden Stakes (Colts & Geldings)
- 13:50 Princess Margaret Stakes (Fillies)
- 14:25 Valiant Stakes (Fillies & Mares)
- 15:00 International Stakes (Heritage Handicap)
- 15:40 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (British Champions Series)
- 16:15 Pat Eddery Stakes (Listed Race)
- 16:50 Betfred Handicap
- 17:25 Whispering Angel Handicap
The King George meeting is Ascot’s version of a summer garden party. Yes, things are still formal, as you’d expect for a racecourse that was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, but everyone in attendance is hoping to watch some great racing and also have fun. The culmination of the racing is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which is the jewel in the crown on the Saturday, whilst the culmination of the fun is the party at the bandstand after the final race on the second day of the meeting. It is a meeting for those that aren’t desperate to bow and scrape to Royalty.
The race on the Friday aren’t the most glamorous, but there are more than enough in there to keep racegoers more than happy with what they’re getting to watch. There is no question that it is the prelude to the main event of the Saturday, though. Whilst the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes takes centre stage, other races, like the Princess Margaret Stakes, are good enough to warrant your attention all on their own. It might lack the pizzazz of Royal Ascot, but the King George meeting shouldn’t be forgotten about if you’re hoping to enjoy a great weekend of racing.