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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Horse Racing Bucket List: Ascot or the Arc?

Royal Ascot Scene 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Bob Mayberger

 

When racing buddy, Tony Bada Bing, sent me an email recently, I knew it was the start of something big. Tony, in his infinite wisdom, laid it on the line. In essence, he told me that it’s time for us to get our arses over to the other side of pond for some fantastic racing in Europe. A lifelong ambition of mine, it almost boggles the mind how or why I’ve never moved this top of the bucket list odyssey from the must-do to the oh-baby-I-did-it side of the list. Tony, and I went back and forth with a couple of emails about the logistics of it all, but most importantly, we were both very sincere in our belief that we will get this done. The big question then became between our top two choices; Ascot or the Arc?

 


There is plenty to consider in deciding which destination will become the initial foray into European racing for both of us. So much so, that I've already started the all-important process with a pros & cons list...

 


Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe



Pros: The Arc has history on its side, at least for me. It’s the race I consider to be the most important outside of the United States, and I always have. I used to watch this race as a kid with my Dad, back when it was on American television, and the memories will never be lost. A race slogan for the Arc, It's not a race, it's a monument, rings true for me … Longchamp is in Paris, this makes for a good vacation not only for racing wackos like me and Tony, but it also should provide a memorable time for the whole family … Food. Yes, I know I am thinking with my stomach again, but in comparison of French cuisine versus that of England, Paris wins going away.

 


Cons: They speak French in France. It’s been a long time since Mrs. Recinello’s French class in high school. I’m more than rusty, I’ve got large holes in the foundation. Bada Bing sounds no better. If we go, I want to make at least a college try to converse in the native language … The timing of the Arc, in October, and so close to the Breeders’ Cup is not ideal. Neither for us working stiffs, nor for the school aged kids we plan on bringing.

 

Royal Ascot



Pros: While the Arc is the one European race, more than any other, that I would like to see, the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot offers up a full smorgasbord of excellent racing over five days. I’m certain the wives wouldn’t let us go all five days, but Tony and I could pick and choose the best three days to be at the track … The timing of the meeting is perfect. The kids are out of school, and we all should be able to get away from work for a week in the middle of June … I mentioned sentimental attachments to the Arc, but they have been racing at Ascot since 1711. The history alone, is humbling … We can speak English to the natives while I wear a top hat and tails, something I’ve oddly always wanted to do.

 


Cons: Should I settle for anything less than the Arc for my first European racing experience? … The food … Would I look good in a top hat and tails?

 

 

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Older Comments about Horse Racing Bucket List: Ascot or the Arc?...

Ascot, all the way, plus they have better beer.
  • techiescum · I'd probably get thrown out of both. · 374 days ago
  • Mike in SB · I went to the Irish Derby many years ago when it was sponsored by Budweiser. I went to the bar for a Guinness and they said because of the sponsorship they could only sell Budweiser. I have never seen so many disappointed Irishmen in my life. · 372 days ago
Lots of good advice here, Zipse. Don’t let missing/not missing a week of school sway you and don’t forget to mix in a little business and write the outlay off. It’s even More fun that way :)
Ascot will cost (bring a suit). Arguably Longchamp more championship type races cadran (20F), arc (12F), l'abbeye (5F) & foret (7F) + Opera for Fillies 10F on same day at end of the season. However Ascot is 5 days (cost ~£300 just to get in all days) best day Tuesday. Sat at Longchamp is 4 or 5 Group 2s. A cheaper option for Ascot is British champions day but not fully developed yet but has seen some superb stuff like Cirrus 3 runs. Longchamp also can clash with JCGC/Awesome Again day else Shadwell/Spinster weekend -> when I attended those 2 weekends clashed with Arc. All good trips.
Both are wonderful experiences. I would do Ascot first as there is nothing comparable to the level of racing for the entire meet. The Arc is a wonderful day of racing and No city rivals Paris in beauty IMO. If you go to The Arc, you must visit Versailles. The Palace and the grounds are truly breathtaking and I would allow at least one entire day or more there.
Ascot for me. It is on my real life bucket list. The length of stay and how fun would it be to hit up a local afterwards for a pint and some chips with curry to discuss the days races? Plus the language barrier is annoying.
Wow I admire the wealth of some of our theoretical fat cat fans who could bring that kind of coin to the game
I think the decision hinges entirely on whether you're talking about a weekend's worth of racing or a full week's worth of racing? If you're talking about just a weekend then definitely go to Longchamp. On Saturday you'd be able to catch the Prix Chaudenay, Prix Daniel Wildensein, Prix de Royallieu, & Prix Dollar, and on Sunday you'd be able to see the Prix de l'Abbaye, Prix Marcel Boussac, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Prix De l'Opera, Prix De l'Arc de Triomphe, & Prix De La Foret all in a 2 day span. But if you're talking a full week's worth of racing than there's no other racing venue in the world that's any better than the royal meeting at Ascot with all of those great patent stakes races and handicaps for all ages. JMO.
If you're planning to make a two week vacation out of it, could you catch the Arc at the front of the trip and the Champions Stakes at the end. But between the two, I'd have to say Ascot. Multiple stakes races over many days.
Do you know what either of these COST? That would be the major restriction on either of them methinks...My bookie friend said Ascot was around 75 pounds
I am tired so I hit the wrong key. The word should be extraordinary. I do not know what kind of lodgings you would be looking at, but renting an apartment for your stay is economical. Otherwise, Mama Shelter is a very cool hotel. It is a bit out of the way, but the Metro is one of the best in the world and you can get anywhere in Paris easily. Well, enough of the travelogue.
I wished to comment before I go to bed. I am partial of course, but you cannot top the combination of Arc Day and Paris. The whole card is top drawer, and Paris is an amazing city. Do not worry about your French. Just try to speak as much as you can, be polite and ask in French if the person you are speaking to speaks English. Even at the end of the tourist season, those few rules will serve you well. You should give yourself at least a week in Paris if possible, as there is much to see in Paris. The food is etraordinary
Easy a visit to the Bois de Boulogne where the best in Europe come together
Its like apple or cherry pie. It sounds like Ascot would be better because of a full week of racing over a one day event. But ask yourself this in reverse, if you lived in Europe would you rather go to the Derby or the Breeders Cup. I think most would choose the Derby. So maybe the single race is a better choice?
Arc easily; who wants to hang out w/a bunch snobs. I'm sure the undercard of the Arc is probably awesome as well
Ascot. You must pay homage to the older of the two courses first. Ascot is over 100 years Longchamps senior! Like you, since I was a little boy, I've dreamed of attending both the Arc and Royal Ascot. Only downside is the formal attire but you have to embrace it right? Always been a khaki/polo shirt kid of guy but I'd be willing to do it up fine to go to Ascot!
ASCOT!!!!
Ascot! The Arc is the best race in the world (in my opinion) but several days of racing at Royal Ascot would outweigh one day at the arc.
Ascot is by far the better event, you will get to see the queen too but if your a die hard racing fan only interested in the racing and not the event then the arc its the best race in the world no doubt.
Tough choice, but I believe all your readers would love to see a picture of you and Tony in a top hat and tails.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.