The charitable side of: Royal Ascot

Annie Kelly

If it can't give for a full 12 months in the year, then Royal Ascot isn't going to give at all.

Billed as "the flagship event of the London season", Royal Ascot is a must-do summer event for a tiny, well-heeled percentage of the populace.

For four days every summer, the world's most famous race meeting brings the Queen together with 300,000 racegoers, including old-money aristocracy, corporate bankers, Russian billionaires and anyone interested in the inevitable sight of Prince Harry dancing on a table in the nearest beer tent.

For an event at which cash is splashed about in spectacular fashion - ticket prices go up to £1,250 for a lunch overlooking the Royal Box - there will be a notable absence of any formal charity fundraising this year. Ascot explains that this is because the development of a new grandstand has seen the racecourse closed since October 2004. "We didn't think it was fair for a charity of the year to get only six months' worth of fundraising," said Laura Wearn, Ascot's marketing manager.

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that six months of charity donations is better than none at all, she pressed on to explain that Ascot really does care about charity - the Prince's Trust, Ascot's charity of the year in 2003, received £180,000 from the tie-up.

Meanwhile, the children's charity Sparks will benefit as the chosen charity partner of Cavendish, Ascot's official hospitality organisers. The charity will receive a number of tickets to help raise money or entertain its major donors.

Ascot also makes sure it contributes to the local community. Last year, when the event was staged at York Racecourse, it gave more than £20,000 to local Yorkshire charities. It also doles out race tickets to Ascot-based voluntary groups.

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