Next week the eyes of the racing world will be on Royal Ascot.
But what makes the five days of the Royal Meeting which begins next Tuesday with the Queen Anne Stakes, named after its founder, the most unique global sporting occasion.
To get a better idea we asked a variety of people from the racing industry including three Derby winning trainers for their reflections.
This is what they had to say.
What makes Royal Ascot Special?
A view from the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art
For me it is the mixture of tradition and modernity - as a social event there is no doubt that the Royal carriage drive down the course sets the scene perfectly for five days of some of the best racing in the world. I love the fact that the origins of the Royal meeting go right the way back to Queen Anne in 1711.
I will be particularly looking out this year to see if Aidan O'Brien is going to run Giuseppe Garibaldi for the King Edward VII Stakes on Friday.
Dr Patricia Hardy
Packard Head of Collections, Exhibitions and Displays
Royal Ascot is special because of its close connection with Queen Elizabeth II. Her presence has lent lustre to the occasion as well as an air of pageantry. The sense of the history of Horseracing and The Queen's passion for the sport is always present during this wonderful week at Ascot.
Chairman of Sandown Park racecourse, Chairman of The Home of Horseracing Trust, The Chairman of British Sporting Art Trust and a Trustee of the National Horseracing Museum.
Royal Ascot is a fixed point of time in the year when the best horses can be seen, the weather is usually good and, the sense of occasion creates a fantastic party. I hardly ever miss a single day of the Royal Meeting and long may this continue.
Trustee of the National Horseracing Museum
Quality of racing, pure and simple, with the added spice of international competition nowadays.
I love the combination of top class horseracing, fashion and the social occasion, it’s a sporting event like no other!
Practical gallery staff
The atmosphere, the fashion, the Royal Procession, and of course all the top class racing.
Practical gallery staff
It’s special because the people and horses come from all over the world. You have the best horses, jockeys, races and prize money and the course is absolute immaculate.
Three Derby winning trainers
The quality of the horses, the competition and the international crowds.
It is not only a remarkable and unusual social occasion but especially for me it is the sight of so many beautiful horses parading in the paddock and then watching them canter down to the post...I love that!....
The presence of The Queen, the pomp and ceremony that goes with that, the formal dress code, the vast crowds and the best horses in the world. Every owner, jockey and trainer wants to win there.
A view from the saddle
The calibre of horseracing, the quality of horses that race during the week, with some of the world’s best horses lining up against each other, and the unbeatable atmosphere. It is such a special week and there is a great buzz in the weighing room and it’s an amazing meeting to ride at.
The Queen being in attendance and the Royal procession up the course and the top quality horses at the meeting.
Our regular guest blogger
Royal Ascot is a unique event in the global racing calendar as it brings together major players from around the world to compete at an iconic venue, with all the pomp and pageantry that British racing has to offer!
What was your favourite racing memory of Royal Ascot?
I don't think I can pick out a single memory - the whole event is such an extraordinary experience, although I hope the weather isn't quite as overpoweringly hot this year as it was in 2017.
My personal best memory of Royal Ascot does not involve a racehorse, although I have many exciting memories from races. My best memory involves horses and carriages. In 2014 my wife, Sue, and I had the honour to be invited by Her Majesty the Queen to lunch at Windsor Castle and then for racing in the Royal Box. To our great excitement, we learned on the day that we would be transported to the racing in one of the royal carriages. It was the Friday of the meeting that year and we shared the fourth carriage (pictured right) with our great friends Chris and Annie Richardson, from Cheveley Park Stud. This really was a day to remember and one of the great occasions in our lives.
Choisir winning the 2003 King's Stand Stakes at 25/1 and then following up in the Golden Jubilee Stakes on Saturday in record time. I had seen Choisir 'win' the L'Oreal Paris Plate (Group 3) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day, but he was demoted after protests and placed third. He then went onto win a Group 1 at Flemington. For once my winning bet was based on what I had seen rather than what I had heard. This was the first Australian win at Royal Ascot.
Frankel winning the Queen Anne Stakes in 2012. By then he was established as one of the best horses of the modern era and although he was expected to win the way in which he did it was breathtaking. The atmosphere was amazing and the whole stand was cheering him home.
My best memories of going to Royal Ascot as a guest was when a filly I used to ride, Moon Dazzle, owned by Bernard Kantor, ran in the Coronation Stakes, and finished 4th to Attraction in 2004. I got to go into the winner’s enclosure as well as in the paddock and I was treated to lunch too!
I used to look after a big grey horse trained by Henry Cecil and ridden by Lester Piggott called General Ironside who easily won the Queens Vase in 1976. It was great as I used to love the horse. I broke him in and used to ride him every day.
My favourite Racing memory was the year 1970 when I trained Magna Carta for The Queen, who won the Ascot Stakes and Mill Reef won the Coventry Stakes on the same day!
Probably Mont Etoile winning the Ribblesdale Stakes in 2006. Given a brilliant ride by Michael Hills, the filly was an outsider but we were more than hopeful. The filly was bred by Maureen’s father, Lester Piggott with his friends and it was a special day for all of us.
It would have to be winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes on Society Rock in 2011, trained by James Fanshawe who is a master of training sprinters. He was extraordinarily fast but needed everything to fall his way on the day, and wasn’t an easy ride. Everything went to plan and we crossed the line half a length in front of Monsieur Chevalier! It was such a buzz coming back into the winner’s enclosure and being awarded the trophy by Her Majesty the Queen!
My favourite racing memory at Royal Ascot would have to be watching Frankel win the Queen Anne. I was standing down by the rail and the noise as he swept past was indescribable and still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck remembering it now.
We would like to thank everyone for letting us know their own memories all of which combine to make Royal Ascot Special.
We would like to thank Bradley Photographers for the image of Choisir.
Blog by Stephen Wallis Visitor Services