Right now, the serious wagering in the U.K. is all about whether the forthcoming Royal infant is sporting a braciole or a feminine accoutrement and depending on which...then what the name shall be.
But in June the Royals and their subjects flock to Ascot for the races. Indeed, this year the Queen won the Gold Cup when a horse she owned,ridden by Ryan Moore, took the wire. This was the first time in 207 years that a reigning Monarch won the race.
Horse racing in the U.S.A. seems to only really capture the attention of the public during the Triple Crown months and then really only during the Kentucky Derby when every cul-de-sac in the flyover states hosts a sorry ass version of a Derby party. Real U.S. enthusiasts pay attention to the Traver's in August at Saratoga and the Haskell at Monmouth and the Breeder's Cup in the Fall.
However, in Britain ,according to a study cited by the New York Times, horse racing is the second most popular sport behind Football(soccer.) U.S. racing used to enjoy a similar status in the late 50's and horses such as Sea Biscuit captured the Nation's attention years before that. Most recently Secretariat was a superstar...but that was 40 years ago. Casino gambling and other factors have led to a sharp decline in track attendance and interest.
The dress code at Ascot is taken seriously. Attending the Races and wearing a cut-away and top hat in the Royal enclosure and betting on these races is on my "bucket list" and I do have some connections which may get me into the coveted venue. Whether I ever make it there or not , it is encouraging to see the Royals put their considerable might and pocket book behind racing. It is refreshing to see the sport being supported by Brits on such a wide scale.