World-class thor­ough­breds, the toppest of top hats and sight­ings of roy­alty make the Royal As­cot an im­por­tant so­ci­ety event on the Bri­tish cal­en­dar and the event has in­spired an ar­chi­tect to re­pro­duce it in Sin­ga­pore 300年以来,爱斯科赛马会延续着英国人引以为傲的赛马文化,它也启发了一名马来

ZbBZ (Singapore) - - IN THIS ISSUE - Bet­ting On The Royal As­cot


Ev­ery duke and earl and peer ishere. Ev­ery­one who should be here is here. What a smash­ing, pos­i­tively dash­ing spec­ta­cle! The As­cot open­ing day!

Half a cen­tury af­ter Au­drey Hep­burn sang th­ese lines in the1964 mu­si­cal My Fair Lady, I got to wit­ness just how grand the Royal As­cot is. Con­sid­ered Bri­tain’s most ex­trav­a­gant horse-rac­ing event that is graced by roy­alty, dig­ni­taries and so­cialites, the five-day af­fair is held ev­ery June at the As­cot Race­course.

I was there on a me­dia in­vi­ta­tion and found my­self rub­bing shoul­ders with Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Corn­wall, af­ter he pre­sented awards in­side the pa­rade ring. He was stand­ing so close, and with­out body­guards in be­tween us, I could see the vi­o­let col­lar on his morn­ing coat and the pat­tern of his pocket square. The prince was beam­ing from ear to ear and I won­dered to my­self if he had had a good spell bet­ting at the races.

The Royal As­cot was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. Three cen­turies later, horse-rac­ing re­mains a favourite ac­tiv­ity for Bri­tish roy­alty and Queen El­iz­a­beth is an avid fan of all things eques­trian and the proud owner of thor­ough­bred horses that live at Wind­sor Cas­tle’s sta­bles. Her horses have won more than 1,600 races to date.

The Royal As­cot is the grand­est of horse races on the Bri­tish cal­en­dar. Held at The As­cot Race­course, which was re­fur­bished in 2004 at a cost of £185 mil­lion and re­opened by Queen El­iz­a­beth in 2006, it is lo­cated in Berk­shire, 65km from Lon­don and less than 10km from Wind­sor – mak­ing it a con­ve­nient hop and skip away for

the royal party.

On the Royal As­cot’s open­ing day, the Queen and Prince Philip ar­rive in a horse-drawn car­riage which pa­rades along the track, in what has be­come a tra­di­tion at the As­cot. Typ­i­cally, flanks of binoc­u­lars are raised the mo­ment the neigh­ing of her car­riage’s horses is heard – you see, bet­ting is such a big part of the race event that even the colour of the queen’s out­fit is wa­gered on.

As it turned out, at last year’s race, the Queen ar­rived in an el­e­gant pas­tel blue out­fit, per­fect for the sum­mer. From the pri­vate box for jour­nal­ists, I could see her en­ter­ing the Royal En­clo­sure on the sec­ond floor ac­com­pa­nied by her hus­band and her grand­son Prince Harry. For an 88-year-old, she was sprightly.

It is im­pos­si­ble to en­ter the Royal En­clo­sure if you have not been in­vited by some­one who has been a mem­ber of that au­di­ence for at least four years. The rest of us com­mon folk can buy seats in VIP boxes or the grand­stand from ticket booths and on­line in what is a greatly pub­li­cised event all across Lon­don.

The dress code is strict. For the ladies, for­mal day­wear is a re­quire­ment, so no strap­less, off-shoul­der and spaghetti strapped out­fits and no re­veal­ing midriffs ei­ther. For the gen­tle­men, a black or grey morn­ing suit is a re­quire­ment, along with a top hat. From ob­ser­va­tion, no one broke the rules and why should they? Ev­ery­one wants to dress up in the pres­ence of roy­alty and the up­per crust. The out­fits were el­e­gant and the hats – flam­boy­ant.

When I ar­rived at Heathrow Air­port with other jour­nal­ists from Sin­ga­pore to cover the event, the cus­toms of­fi­cer saw our hat boxes and asked straight away if we were there for the Royal As­cot. She her­self had bought tick­ets, pre­pared her own hat and was look­ing for­ward to the races’ Ladies’ Day, when ev­ery fe­male at­tendee would go out of her way to daz­zle with her head­gear. On open­ing day, I saw hats with over­sized flo­ral ar­range­ments, gi­ant nets, masses of fur balls, geo­met­ric shapes, Bri­tish break­fasts and even a Brazil­ian flag. The scene-steal­ers are guar­an­teed a spot i n the news­pa­pers’ Hat of the Day spec­tac­u­lars the fol­low­ing day.

When we fi­nally got to at­tend – me with top hat in place – I found my­self en­joy­ing the splen­dour and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of the Royal As­cot. Apart from the con­stant swirl of celebri­ties and out­landish out­fits around us, plus the beauty of the horses gal­lop­ing past and the regular roars of victory from the crowds, there were cham­pagne lunches to be had and an un­beat­able view of ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing on the tracks be­low. Be­fore each race, a staff of the Royal As­cot comes into the box to col­lect bets. If the horse you bet on wins, the prize money will be de­liv­ered to you.

ZbBz was hosted at the Royal As­cot by the China Horse Club, owned by Malaysian ar­chi­tect Teo Ah Khing.

He wanted Sin­ga­pore jour­nal­ists to ex­pe­ri­ence best-at­tended race in Europe and pos­si­bly in all of the world (each year, the Royal As­cot at­tracts an au­di­ence of 300,000 in just five days). One could call it a royal event that wel­comes the masses, be­cause any­one with a ticket can at­tend and the dif­fer­ent so­cial classes and cul­tures are con­nected through the spec­ta­cle of watch­ing and bet­ting on the horses.

Teo’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for horse-rac­ing and thor­ough­breds de­vel­oped when he was a con­sul­tant to the Sheikh of Dubai for seven years. The sheikh had tasked Teo with designing and su­per­vis­ing the con­struc­tion of Mey­dan Race­course, which opened in 2010.

For the launch, the Dubai World Cup was held there, which awards the world’s high­est horse-bet­ting prize money of US$10 mil­lion (S$13 mil­lion). Af­ter experiencing the glitz and glam­our of the As­cot and Mey­dan, Teo hopes to in­tro­duce the same to China’s up­per classes.

“I saw that horse-rac­ing can go way fur­ther from Europe and North Amer­ica,” says the Har­vard-ed­u­cated 53-year-old en­treprenuer. “The horse-rac­ing busi­ness is one that makes dreams come true. Trans­plant­ing it to China also means we’re go­ing to cre­ate new job op­por­tu­ni­ties and raise new tal­ent in horse rais­ing and horse rid­ing.”

Since China does not have a tra­di­tion of horse-rac­ing and bet­ting is banned, Teo de­cided to or­gan­ise a sim­i­lar event i n Sin­ga­pore that is de­signed as a be­gin­ner’s horse-rac­ing event to at­tract about 1,000 af­flu­ent Chi­nese hol­i­day­mak­ers.

He signed a con­tract with the Sin­ga­pore Turf Club last year to set up the China Equine Cul­tural Fes­ti­val, an event to be held in Sin­ga­pore for the next three years, with prize money to­talling $3.05 mil­lion – $50,000 more than the Sin­ga­pore Air­lines In­ter­na­tional Cup. The de­but event will be held from Fe­bru­ary 21 to 22, dur­ing China’s Spring Golden Week, when 600 mil­lion Chi­nese are ex­pected to travel out­side China.

The China Horse Club has con­firmed that it will im­port eight to 10 Group One thor­ough­bred horses to Sin­ga­pore from Europe and Australia for the races. They will re­main in Sin­ga­pore af­ter this year’s race, for par­tic­i­pa­tion in sub­se­quent China Equine Cul­tural Fes­ti­vals.

The fes­ti­val will of­fer a China-friendly sched­ule, wel­com­ing vis­i­tors with a char­ity cock­tail party cum art auc­tion at the ArtS­cience Mu­seum at Ma­rina Bay Sands on open­ing night. Paint­ings by two Chi­nese artists, Mao Wen­biao and Li Xiaol­ing, both known for their paint­ings of horses, will be auc­tioned. Dur­ing the race, China Horse Club will also col­lab­o­rate with brands like Louis Vuit­ton to pro­vide closed-door sales ser­vices.

“We are cre­at­ing a brand new cul­tural en­ter­tain­ment con­cept cen­tred on China’s rich, not just a chance to bet on horses. We are also try­ing to make the busi­ness a cul­tural ex­change, first by bring­ing China to the world, and later the world to China.”

It might be tall or­der to recre­ate the same level of ex­trav­a­gance and pomp in Sin­ga­pore, but Teo feels he has to start some­where. His first step is to work on the public mind­set: down­play­ing the bet­ting as­pect, cel­e­brat­ing thor­ough­bred own­er­ship and high­light­ing horse-rac­ing as an ac­tiv­ity for roy­alty and a play­ground for the well-heeled.

If Teo is us­ing the Royal As­cot as a bench­mark, then such a fes­ti­val could po­ten­tially cast one to the apex of the so­cial scene, be­cause which other spec­ta­cle in town has a bona fide queen in at­ten­dance year af­ter year?

Teo tops off his ob­ser­va­tions this way: “If you want to rub shoul­ders with roy­alty, at­tend­ing the Royal As­cot i sn’t enough, you need to have your own thor­ough­bred horses. You’ll need to have your horses race at the Royal As­cot and if your horse wins, you’ll ac­cept the award from a mem­ber of the Royal Fam­ily. There’s no eas­ier way to ac­cess the Bri­tish up­per class than hav­ing thor­ough­bred horses.”


1964年奥黛莉夏萍(Aud­ery Hep­burn)主演的音乐剧电影《窈窕淑女》这么唱着。半个世纪后,我见证了英国皇家爱斯科赛马会(Royal As­cot)这场仍是当今世上最华丽,王室名流荟萃的传统赛马盛事。





爱斯科赛马场在2004年耗资1.85亿英镑重建,由Pop­u­lous与Buro Hap­pold建筑事务所设计,2006年由英女王开幕。场内观众席分三个等级,其中以王室包厢区为最高级,要特别受邀才能进入,并非有钱就行。出席者的服饰守则严格——女的必须戴帽,并穿上指定样式和长度的晨间洋装,不能露肩或腰;男的则得穿上黑色或灰色的晨间燕尾服和高顶礼帽。放眼望去,当日99%的出席者,即使非王室包厢区的观众, 都乐于遵照这衣着规定,现场绅士淑女衣香鬓影,展现英国上流社交场的华贵。

《早报报志》连同本地和中国几家媒体受China Horse Club杰士马主俱乐部邀请,盛装出席去年的英国皇家爱斯科赛马会开幕日,体验英式赛马传统。杰士马主俱乐部在赛马场五楼包下包厢,款待媒体和贵宾。





China Horse Club杰士马主俱乐部创办人张祖德笑说:“要更接近王室,除了参与皇家爱斯科赛马会之外,那就是拥有纯种马,让马儿到爱斯科参赛,夺冠的马主能从王室成员手里接获奖杯。再也没有比当纯种马马主更快地进入英国上流社会的途径了。”


53岁来自马来西亚的张祖德本业是建筑师,个人的赛马启蒙是在迪拜萌芽的。毕业自哈佛大学的他创办了TAK建筑设计集团,为迪拜规划、设计和督建了2010年开张的迈丹皇家赛马场。这座叫世界哗然的赛 马场宛如在750万平方米的沙漠上绽放的一朵奇花,拥有1.6公里长的看台、两个跑马场、九洞高尔夫球场、五星级酒店、餐饮设施和博物馆,为迪拜提供全年的娱乐。






张祖德说:“如果这次我们能吸引1000位富人旅客前来参与,已是很不错的开始。反应好的话,我们不排除在今年的中国‘十一国庆黄金周’举办马赛。我们要展示给中国富人的是一个让他们感到新鲜的文娱概念,而不单是赌马。我们也把这当作文化交流,把中国带到世界,再把世界带到中国。” *欲知“中国驭马文化节”(China Equine Cul­tural Fes­ti­val)详情,请上网: www.chi­na­horse­club.com。

The 300-year old Royal As­cot cel­e­brates the best of thor­ough­bred horse-rac­ing,

long been con­sid­ered as the sports for the roy­alty. (Photo: China Horse Club)

Get­ting the tro­phy from the Queen is one of the high­lights of Royal As­cot for horse own­ers and jock­eys. (Photo: China Horse Club)

爱斯科跑马场绿草如茵,公众除了私人包厢和站台,还能包下私人小帐篷观看赛事。(Photo: Lim Fong Wei)

赛事举行前,马儿会在赛区绕场一圈,展示在马主和马迷面前。(Photo: Lim Fong Wei)

爱斯科马会有尊贵的皇家包厢和私人包厢。(Photo: China Horse Club)

英国报纸在赛马会期间报道每日最奇特的帽子。爱斯科被戏称为“帽子社交场”。平民百姓也能凭着奇帽登上报纸头版,抢夺英女王风头。(Photo: Lim Fong Wei)

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