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Royal Ascot 2008
It's one of the most presitigious events in the racing calendar and takes place this year from Tuesday 17 June to Saturday 21 June 2008. BBC Radio Berkshire's Tim Dellor reminds us why there's always a buzz about Royal Ascot.
What makes Royal Ascot special? Two hundred years of history helps.
The staunch support of The Royal Family gives every day a sense of occasion.
The calibre of the horses battling it out on the track makes this a top quality sporting event.
As sporting architecture goes there can be few more intriguing buildings than the course's pavilion.
Three hundred thousand visitors pour into the small Berkshire town over the five days.
With six thousand people employed in the main pavilion alone, the event has an essential impact on the local economy.
For non-racing folk, Royal Ascot is to horse racing what The Champions League is to football.
The very best horses from Britain and abroad battle it out over varying distances.
The Group 1 races (three on Tuesday and then one on each of the other four days) are the really high profile contests - to continue the parallel, the Real Madrid V Manchester United ties.
Millions of pounds' worth of prize money is on offer over the week, but the sums pale into insignificance when put alongside the figures gambled by punters on the races online, at betting shops around the world and with the trackside bookies at Ascot.
One of more subtle hats from last year
Where 'did' you get that hat?
As demonstrated by Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's My Fair Lady, it is the place to be seen during an English summer, and racegoers spend hours deliberating over their appearance.
Nowhere serves as a better fashion barometer than Royal Ascot. Fascinators or hats, bold floral or understated pastel, mini or sweeping? All the answers are plastered all over the tabloids.
With royalty, celebrities and totty all in the same venue, it's a happy hunting ground for the snappers.
See BBC Berkshire's Royal Ascot photo galleries here:
Tim Dellor reporting from Royal Ascot 2007
That's a large punnet of strawberries...
The sheer scale of the operation is mind boggling. It is the biggest corporate hospitality operation in Europe, and takes catering to a different level.
If you are hungry, on order this year are three and a half tonnes of smoked salmon, and five tonnes of strawberries.
For the thirsty there are 185,000 bottles of champagne and 176,000 pints of beer.
Bigger than football
It is the most visited event in Berkshire all year, and is the county's biggest sporting event, exceeding even the late Premier League footballing activities in Reading, and it is the world's most famous race meeting.
This year's event gets underway on Tuesday 17 June.
There is full live coverage from Royal Ascot on BBC Radio Berkshire. The racing, the fashions, the traffic on the local roads, and the social side to the event are all covered there and on bbc.co.uk/berkshire.
last updated: 10/06/2008 at 14:46