Michelle continues recounting her day at Royal Ascot.
The journey seemed to take forever; road work, traffic delays and desperately looking for a rest area where I could change and apply my makeup meant arrival at my destination town late. And then I couldn’t find the train station.
After a few minutes, I saw directions and arrived to see my friend waiting. He didn’t spot me at first, but as I drove up next to him, he recognized me and came over suggesting that I could park on a nearby road, which I did – a free parking space only 500 feet from the station – almost perfect.
I had about 10 minutes to tidy up the car and sort myself out before the train came. I didn’t think this was possible, but a swift turnaround and I experienced a wonderful feeling of freedom as we walked onto the platform in time for the train.
Having said that, there was another train 30 minutes later and in hindsight, I should have waited for it and given myself more time before leaving the car. I was feeling a little rushed and in addition, my partner for the day had not commented on how I looked even after all the effort I had made (apart from eventually a “nice ensemble” comment, after I had said he looked smart). Oh well, such is the woman’s world.
There were others similarly dressed for Ascot at the station. This was the last point I could have chickened out had I suddenly lost all confidence. I didn’t, of course, and as the train approached and stopped, we boarded and the doors closed behind us. There was now no going back.
“Next stop Ascot,“ said the announcer; we would soon be there. The train was crowded, but we had a choice of seats. This was my first time on public transport en femme and so far not a second glance from anyone – wonderful.
After the train stopped, we made our way onto the station platform. It was crowded and I felt exposed, especially since there was a group of young women ahead of us who obviously noticed me and seemed to be asking “is she?” or “isn’t she?” I’m 6’5” tall in my heels and maybe there were discussing my height. Whichever it was, it was no big issue, but not a good start.
There was a 10 minute walk to the racecourse (they say 7 minutes, but not in my shoes!) where we picked up the tickets and entered the turnstile to the racecourse . The Grandstand is a magnificent site and seems to go on forever. With the colors of the crowd, the lawns and the well-kept environs, on a sunny day, the whole scene was breathtaking (as I hope you can see from the photos).
I am always amazed at how few people take any notice of me and this was certainly the case on this day; just a few second glances. After a nervous start, I felt perfectly at home. We surveyed the areas where we could go (as we had Grandstand tickets that was pretty much everywhere except the very exclusive Royal Enclosure). We decided to go into the Grandstand itself to pick a decent spot for when the racing started and carry on to the grass area in front of the Grandstand where the benches are situated, whereupon we sat on one to survey the scene providing an opportunity for more photos on the glorious lawns in front of the Grandstand, as you can see.
I texted a friend to see if she had any good betting tips, but to no avail, so we were on our own. At this point, my friend admitted he knew next to nothing about horse racing and although that was more than me, it was not a great comfort. However, he did explain when he was a young boy he watched a race on the television with his brother-in-law and went “through the card” merely by choosing the jockeys he’d heard of. Had he put a small bet on each, he would have won many hundreds of pounds. Now this was looking better!
We wandered off to get some lunch in a café and enjoyed what was one of the best burgers we’d had (albeit the most expensive). Ah, this was the life, I could become a “lady who lunches.” Anyway, we finished our meal and both needed to go to the public conveniences.
My friend disappeared not realizing how long it takes me to “visit the ladies.” Without going into too much detail, there are many things that have to be accessed and then carefully put back into place when I’ve finished and that’s before replenishing makeup, checking hair and (with it being Royal Ascot) my hat. The toilets themselves were the best Portaloos I’d been in with ample mirrors and no queues.
I eventually rejoined my friend as the Royal Procession was about to go past. We caught that and then went up more stairs to go to the parade ring where we surveyed the horses before the first race. We didn’t know what we were looking at but my friend had heard one of the jockeys being interviewed and put £5 on him at 5-4.
We returned to the grass, which was now packed (how quickly these people arrived) to watch the race and were pleased to see our horse come in first. So I’m betting on the next race again using the system of betting on a jockey I’d heard of. I chose Frankie Dettori’s mount and went to place my bet. As I reached the front of the queue, the bookmaker said, “Yes, Madam?”
Yes Madam? I’d been “Madamed” and I almost forgot what I was there to do, but quickly regained my composure and said “£5 on number 8, please.” He took my money, gave me my betting slip, and I floated towards my viewing position. Whether I won or not was now of secondary importance as we looked for a space in the packed Grandstand. However, I did win and at 5-1!
My friend betted on the other races and won on four out of six attempts. Me, I chanced my arm once more and lost, but was still £20 up on the day. Wow! My friend, was over £30 up on the day. If I go again, I’m inviting him along.
Before the last race I took my betting slip to collect my winnings and I was “Madamed” again as I handed over my slip to receive my winnings. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of this momentous moment. As the last race finished, we had to decide on when to leave and as neither of us are have a great voice, we forwent the community singing and headed for the train station.
Michelle’s Day at Royal Ascot concludes here tomorrow.
Wearing Badgley Mischka.
Femulator appearing in the 1968 documentary film The Queen.