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Royal Ascot: Talking with ITV sports broadcaster Oli Bell on this week’s big event

By LLM Reporters  |  June 14, 2021
royal ascot
Image Credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

Oli Bell is a sports broadcaster, currently working for ITV Racing. His uncle, Michael Bell, trains for Her Majesty The Queen and enjoyed success in one of the most thrilling Royal Ascot finishes of all time, the 2017 Gold Cup.

Bell will be covering this week’s action at Ascot, which is running from 15th to 19th June, where the government has also allowed 12,000 spectators to attend each day of the Royal Meeting.

Claira Miesegaes, of Great British Racing International, caught up with Bell about the upcoming event, including how to make the most of all the action, what to wear and what he is most looking forward to about the week.

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Oli Bell at Ascot. Image credit: ITV Racing

What are you most looking forward to about Royal Ascot 2021?

Well, obviously the racing! The horses on show are always incredible but this year is going to be extra special because, finally, we can look forward to a proper crowd at the races. 12,000 people will be attending Ascot Racecourse each day which, after the last couple years, will feel like a full crowd. It will be so good to see people having fun, enjoying top quality sport and socialising with friends again in their best outfits.

Why is the Royal Meeting such a special occasion?

It combines everything that is good in life. It’s a global event featuring brilliant sport, fashion, Royalty, delicious wine and, most importantly, hanging out and having fun with friends. It’s the perfect summer event and the quality on the racecourse is out of this world.

The Royal Meeting features eight Group 1 (top-level) races throughout the week, horses from all over the world and, what I really love, is that a horse that may have cost one million guineas will take on a horse that cost two thousand – the dream can become a reality whether you’re the biggest owner in racing or part of a small syndicate with like-minded people. It’s a magical week and some of the human stories that come to life over the five days would get even the hardest souls smiling. 

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Oli Bell interviews jockey James Doyle after winning the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Big Orange in 2017; his uncle, Michael Bell, was the winning trainer. Image credit Zuzanna Lupa/Racingfotos.com

Aside from enjoying the world-class racing, what must one do when at Ascot?

Have fun! We have all learnt this after the last eighteen months or so. It has been such a tough time for the whole world; I hope that Royal Ascot marks the beginning of the end, we can kick on and our lives can return to normal. To see people smiling and having fun will be the best sight. 

Best seat in the house?

Her Majesty The Queen’s seat in the Royal Box, but I appreciate that we will never be able to go there! Before each race, anywhere around the paddock so that you can see the horses – and you must get close to the winning line for one of the big field handicaps. I highly recommend the sound of the jockeys and horses in the closing stages of a race and the closer you are to the rail, the more you will able to experience it. Those noises and that adrenaline rush was what gave me the racing bug!

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Dress is one of the most important aspects of the day. Image credit: Andy Watts/Racingfotos.com

What to wear?

I have the most amazing navy-blue morning suit from Favourbrook, as well as a traditional one which I pair with a variety of different Favourbrook waistcoats. They dress women too.

Favourite Royal Ascot moment?

This is pretty easy for me! Definitely Big Orange in the Ascot Gold Cup, who was trained by my uncle, Michael Bell. It’s a race and a week that I will never forget from a personal point of view. In terms of a WOW moment then it has to be Frankel in the Queen Anne in 2012. I’ve never seen a horse as good as him and what he did that day was breath-taking. 

Any tips?

The hardest question of the lot! I like Masekela in the Chesham on Saturday. Also, keep an eye on Sacred in the Commonwealth Cup, I think she will run well.

Great British Racing International is British horseracing’s dedicated service provider, committed to helping international parties to navigate the esteemed networks that make up this world-leading industry. For more information, visit greatbritishracinginternational.com.