One cannot be surprised that Society with its country roots, would have as some of their favorite amusements, sports. The two most famous of these, the Ascot and the Henley Regatta. And Society wouldn't be Society if they couldn't add their own special touch to these events turning them into highly ceremonious affairs. And so they did.
The Ascot is not like any other horse race and the Henley not just a boat race. Other of these events, Sundown and Kempton Park, however, remain occasions where one could wager money on the winner. The three events which have attained the most notariety for the elite are the Derby held in early June, the Ascot later in the month and Goodwood at the end of July.
The Derby is only one of the races run at Epsom Downs in June, however, this 2-1/2 minute event is a very special favorite, setting the pace for racing for the rest of the season. If there is one race one needs to go and bet on, it is The Derby. (Picture: "Race for the Derby Stakes" by James Pollard)
While Society would like to claim this event solely for themselves, the Derby is the most popular festival of the year and is open to all. They gather together in all shapes and sizes, with their sports journals and newspapers scanning the betting. Few know anything about a horse, but you are to believe they do. If you see the Derby, you've seen it all.
Ascot Week is considered the half-way point of the Season, and for many the highest point. It features the best sport of the year as well as offering the largest prize money. Attendance on Gold Cup day is an obligation of anyone who is anyone in Society. The view is astounding, arriving by coach, in a line over a quarter of a mile, three and four deep . . . Society's must dazzling picnic. Residences surrounding the area can pay an entire year's rent with what they can receive for just this one week. (Picture: Ascot Grandstand by John F. Herring)
Not the typical rowdy affair, Cup Day is rather calm. Although there is too much dust and too many horses upon the scene to make it a successful "garden party", there are too many women to consider it a sports race; the women outnumbering the men at least four to one. It's a grand party taking tea in the back of the Grand Enclosure, the grandstand or on the lawn and lunching in the many coaches in which they arrive.
To describe Goodwood, picture a miniature of Ascot, with fewer attendees, but the same horses, jockeys and array of smart fashion and delightful delicacies and drinks. It is also the most exclusive because it is the farthest from London, offering less of a temptation to take a day out. It is held in the prettiest race gounds in England, resembling Society's English country estates. It is also the last event of the Season bringing together the same people who have been socializing these last three months.
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