The Queen will open Royal Ascot on Tuesday, with bookies expecting a record-breaking £200million to be wagered by fans this week. As the meeting dubbed the “Olympics of flat racing” kicks off, bets are even being placed on the colour of the Queen’s hat today – with pink the 3/1 favourite. Many members of the royal family will attend, but it is unclear if the Duchess of Sussex will be there. Meghan, 37, went last year, but with son Archie only six weeks old, she is still on maternity leave from official engagements.
Some bookies are predicting more than £200million will be wagered over the week, making it one of the biggest festivals in recent years. Royal Ascot, which staged its first race back in 1711, is one of the biggest meetings in world racing with horses from all over the globe taking part in the prestigious event. And it’s one of the biggest weeks of the year for the bookmakers. Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “We’re expecting in excess of £200m to be punted this week at Ascot alone, making this one of the biggest festivals in recent years.” “Royal Ascot is huge for us and day one looks a dangerous day for the bookmakers,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.
“Royal Ascot is the Olympics of flat racing and we predict that an astonishing £150 million will be wagered across the industry this week. “The Queen’s hat is one of the public’s favorite fun bets and with the rain expected to hold off, the money says she will be pretty in pink.” In the very first race, the wartime heroism of Major John Goldsmith will be recalled as Accidental Agent goes for a repeat success in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Accidental Agent is named after the highly-decorated member of Winston Churchill’s enemy-sabotaging Special Operations Executive, who died in 1972. Bred and owned by his daughter Gaie Johnson Houghton, the horse is trained by his granddaughter Eve. Goldsmith, a colourful pre-war racehorse trainer brought up in Paris and consequently an impeccable French speaker, became “The Accidental Agent” - the title of a book he wrote about his experiences - when recruited by the SOE and parachuted in behind enemy lines in France after being denied a place in the regular army.
“He was extraordinary,” said Eve. “There are so many amazing stories; my favorite is when he’d been captured by the Gestapo and locked in a high-up hotel room in Paris, but still managed to escape through a window, edging around the building, despite being terrified of heights - that was brave.”Ascot racecourse bosses have arranged for extra car parking to help cope with more people driving to the track as a result of strike action by train staff.
Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and communications, said: “Ascot has the extra car parking capacity which will be needed on site and those areas will, of course, be well signposted.” Aidan O’Brien is the favorite to be top trainer at the meeting at 2/1 on and the odds on the top jockey title features Ryan Moore at 6/4 as a favorite with the ever-popular Frankie Dettori, who has been riding at Ascot for 32 years, at 11/4.Read More