Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

The history of Royal Ascot dates back to 1711, when Queen Anne decided to pursue her love of horse racing. She bought a clearing near Windsor Castle for just £558, and ordered it to be prepared for racing. Ascot racecourse was born.

The annual Royal Ascot racing festival is synonymous with the royal family. Queen Elizabeth II and various members of the British royal family attend the meeting every year, arriving at the start of each of five race days in horse-drawn carriages.

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Famous for its extravagant gowns and headpieces, Royal Ascot is also a time for celebrity spotting. The 2019 renewal starts on Tuesday and most attending fans are wondering whether Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle will make an appearance like they did in 2018.

Of interesting note is that Nicola Currie, the UK’s leading female apprentice, is expected to break a 32-year-drought for lady riders. Gay Kellaway was the first and only female to win at Royal Ascot when she won the Queen Alexandra Stakes on Sprowstown Boy in 1987.

Currie’s mount Raising Sand is a strongly fancied runner in Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup. The action will be televised on SA’s Tellytrack (#DSTV 239).

Locally, the Tuesday fare comes from Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, where Winter Blues (race 7, 1,000m) is expected to be punters’ cure for just that.

Already a five-time winner, Winter Blues should be a cut above his rivals in this MR72 (merit rating) handicap and his trainer Louis Goosen said on Monday that his gelding will not have a problem with 61,5kg.

“He’s a little guy, not a big horse, but he is strong, well within himself and will be able to shoulder his big weight.”

Goosen has engaged leading heavyweight rider Bernard Fayd’Herbe and said: “Bernard was quick to phone me for the ride when the nomination sheet came out. Anton Marcus also phoned, but he was too late and he joked: ‘Okay, I will watch it win!’ We are hoping he’s right!”

Scottsville selections, Tuesday

Race 1: (14) Royal Kitty (12) Miss Charlotte (10) Maiden’s Prayer (8) Electric Surge

Race 2: (11) Quant Master (1) Baby Shooz (8) Loosen Your Tie (9) Mighty Smart

Race 3: (8) Double Espresso (7) Chaumaso (11) Royal Emblem (3) Great Stohvanen

Race 4: (1) Opensea (3) Catch The Devil (10) Indigo Tractor (4) Paradise Lost

Race 5: (2) Born To Perform (3) Sovereign Spirit (7) Cruz Giovanni (1) Confessional

Race 6: (8) Amazing Satchmo (6) The Master (1) Collabro (2) GG’s Dynasty

Race 7: (1) Winter Blues (6) Johnny Black (7) Blaze Of Silk (9) Concealed Spirit

Race 8: (7) Be Happy (1) Fair Antonia (4) Ambra (5) Sarabi