Ascot Racecourse is one of the leading racecourses in the UK and hosts 26 days of top class racing, including nine Group 1 Flat Races. The course itself was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, when the first race, “Her Majesty’s Plate” took place with seven horses and a purse of 100 Guineas. With this race, the royal tradition was started and it’s been continued ever since.
The biggest event in their annual calendar is the five day Royal Ascot festival, where Over 300,000 people make the visit to Berkshire. This figure makes it the best-attended race meeting in Europe, even dwarfing the Cheltenham Festival. The biggest race of the festival is the Gold Cup, held on Ladies’ Day on the Thursday.
So, when we were asked to completely design and create the four signage and timing trailers and completely refurbish another for the finish line – with a tight deadline – we knew the pressure was on. For those five days of the festival not only are the eyes of the racing world on that finish line, the eyes of the WHOLE world are on it.
Engineer Pete preparing the lifting straps prior to the loading of the new trailers for Ascot Racecourse
One of the trailers was designed to carry the official Longines Chronometer. Longines is the ‘Official Timekeeper’ and Official Watch’ of Ascot and Royal Ascot. With a Swiss Chronometer as the centrepiece of our work, the quality had to be exceptional. As a company, they themselves can be traced back to 1832, when Auguste Agassiz produced their first pocket watches with a crown wheel escarpment in Saint-Imier, Switzerland.
The four new trailers were designed and built from the ground up, so they could be joined together on site to create a continuous wall for the scoreboard and screens. Three were at 5 metres and the one carrying the Longines Chronometer at 2.5 metres. We designed a new locking method for each trailer, so that they can be fully locked down, rather than needing to be strapped when they are in ‘transit mode’.
The lift underway against a dark, gloomy sky
The trailer for refurbishment was completely dismantled and rebuilt from the axles upwards. The metalwork was all stripped, treated and repainted in our own Spray Booth.
The load is underway with the Chronometer lifted first
With their high profile and relatively low weight for ease of transportation, each unit had its own wind calcs made for all eventualities, with different ballast levels specified for different wind conditions.
The Longines Chronometer on its own trailer being loaded for transport to Ascot
So when you’re looking at the winning line and your horse races past, think of Garmendale and the many hours of high-quality refurbishment work it took for our team to get those panels there.