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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Tickets going fast but full television coverage of all the pomp and ceremony

Dartmouth team: The Queen, Sir Michael Stoute and Olivier Peslier compare notes after the Hardwicke Stakes defeat of Highland Reel last year
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With the world's best horses running for over £6.5million in prize-money across five star-sprinkled days at one of sport's most iconic venues, the marketeers may just be right - Royal Ascot really is like nowhere else.

Over 295,000 attended last year's meeting so the Royal Ascot organisers certainly know how to throw a party but be warned: turning up fashionably late is a big mistake.

The meeting, which starts this year on Tuesday June 20, kicks off with three Group 1s and a Group 2, featuring some of the finest horses on the planet.

Tepin last year became the first US-trained winner of the curtain-raiser that is the Queen Anne Stakes. American Patriot will seek to land back-to-back triumphs for the States, while the international flavour is boosted courtesy of Melbourne Cup-winning rider Michelle Payne, who has been flown in to ride Kaspersky for fellow Australian Jane Chapple-Hyam.

The Gold Cup is the highlight of Thursday's card, not to mention the whole meeting's signature prize, and last year's winner Order Of St George is already odds-on to retain his crown for the dominant Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore combination.

Saturday's Hardwicke Stakes may be a Group 2 but it provided one of the most memorable moments from last year's meeting when Dartmouth provided the Queen with a notable success. If you're a big fan of the monarchy – or indeed the famous Devon town – you can cheer on Dartmouth again, who is a 5-1 shot to retain his Hardwicke crown.

The Prince Of Wales's Stakes, the feature on Wednesday, and the Coronation Stakes, Friday's highlight, are among the eight top-level races at the meeting, with 18 of the 30 races afforded Group status.

One of them, Friday's Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, is only in its third year but will provide one of the most thrilling sights of the week as last year's brilliant Coventry Stakes winner, Caravaggio, takes on Godolphin pair Blue Point and Harry Angel in what is sure to be many showdowns between the two racing superpowers, Coolmore and Godolphin.

So, how can you enjoy this extravaganza of racing?

Watch live

Racegoers flock from all over the country – and indeed the world – to go to Royal Ascot.

Tickets in both the Windsor enclosure (£37) and the Queen Anne enclosure (£75) remain available for the first two days of the meeting but the Queen Anne enclosure is sold out for the final three days.

If you are thinking of going racing on the Thursday or Friday you can still buy tickets for the Windsor enclosure (£46) and the new Village enclosure (£67) but Saturday is a sell-out.

Remember Royal Ascot's dress code is notoriously strict especially in the royal enclosure and must be followed to the inch, sorry millimetre.

Full dress code details can be found on the Ascot website.

Watch on TV or listen

Royal Ascot will be broadcast on ITV for the first time and the good news for mainstream viewers is the channel will be showing all 30 races.

In addition to the live racing programme - which is scheduled to run from 1.30pm to 6pm each day - there will also be daily hour-long editions of The Opening Show from 10am Tuesday to Friday on ITV4, and at 9.25am on ITV on Saturday.

Racing UK will also be showing all the action, on air from 9am with Mark Your Card right through to 6pm each day.

Such is the meeting’s appeal, broadcasters around the world will be hoping to attract many more millions with NBC joining the party this year with daily coverage (8.30am-1pm eastern time).

BBC Radio 5 live will be another strong stayer over the five days with Cornelius Lysaght and commentator John Hunt describing on-course and off-course action. Saturday’s 5 Live Sport will be presented from the track by Eleanor Oldroyd.

Why is this meeting such a big deal? 

In addition to the fashion, top-class racing and iconic location, Royal Ascot is a slice of British history and life, literally from top to bottom.

The Queen might face a tricky constitutional question this year, with a new parliament being assembled to receive her speech, but the meeting would not be the same without the monarch's daily attendance, starting with the historic royal procession in Landau carriages up the straight.

Worry not, though, as in a similar situation in 2001 the royal procession was restricted to two days as the horses and carriages were required to convey the Queen to Wesminster for the state opening of parliament on the Wednesday and had to be in place for a practice on Tuesday.

The royal party, including the Queen, came by car on both days and arrived in time for racing.

Her Majesty is looking for her 24th winner at her meeting having won her first Gold Cup in 2013 with Estimate, the previous year's Queen's Vase winner.

Her Majesty is looking for her 24th winner at her meeting having won a first Gold Cup in 2013 with Estimate, the previous year's Queen's Vase winner

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