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Summer 2017 Promising Vintage Entertainment

Summer

There are few pleasures in life quite like a lazy summer’s afternoon spent watching sport with a glass of something cold in one’s hand. With that most agreeable of seasons almost upon us, we’ve picked some historic, quintessentially English sporting events that not only provide the most luxurious surroundings but some serious, world-class competition.

Royal Ascot: 20th June – 24th June

Royal Ascot

Not to be confused with several other meets held annually at the course, Royal Ascot is the 5-day, mid-June event, widely considered as the jewel of the British racing calendar.

Do not make the mistake of thinking it’s as much about hats as horses; each day sees the cream of flat-racing talent fight it out for some of the biggest prizes in the sport.

Dating back to 1711, Royal Ascot has all the traditions, pomp and circumstance you would expect of a royal racing event. With unrivalled hospitality facilities in which to mingle with the good and great of the British racing scene, the meet offers a truly unique sporting and social experience for you and your friends or clients.

England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, Lords:
6th July – 10th July

Investec test

England’s limited-overs stars might enjoy the limelight for the first half of the summer, but July 6th will see the start of the business end of the season as the test match heavyweights fight their first battle of the series at Lord’s.

South Africa and England, the third and fourth ranked test sides, respectively, each boast proven world-class performers in both the batting and bowling departments. Whichever side prevails in what will doubtless be a thrillingly close contest will be well positioned to challenge India and Australia at the of the top test tree.

There is no better place to set the scene for the series than the home of cricket, so don’t miss your opportunity to join us at Lord’s.

July 6th – 10th: 1st Investec Test, Lord’s

July 14th – 18th: 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge

July 27th – 31st: 3rd Investec Test, Kia Oval

Aug 4th – 8th: 4th Investec Test, Emirates Old Trafford

Henley Royal Regatta: 28th June – 2nd July

Henley Royal Regatta

Established in 1839, ‘The Royal’, as it’s often referred to by those in the know, is arguably the most prestigious rowing event in the world.

The location and rich history combine with an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate set of fans to create an atmosphere that many successful Olympic rowers have described as the best they ever experienced.

Held over a 2,310-yard course on the Thames, Henley attracts the very best school, university and club crews, who compete head-to-head in a knockout format.

Much like The Boat Race, crews get far more ‘up close and personal’ than in laned events, guaranteeing some real drama. Crews are assigned to row on either the ‘Bucks’ (Buckinghamshire) or ‘Berks’ (Berkshire) side of the course, but, beyond that, they can pick their own line.

Crews row in Eights, Fours or Pairs, with categories for Sculls (where rowers use pairs of oars instead of one each), Coxed and Coxless events. Racing runs from 8.30am to 7.30pm each day, with up to 90 heats per day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to toast winning boats.

Wimbledon, The Championships 2017:
Monday 3rd July – Sunday 16th July

Wimbledon

Men’s tennis in particular is enjoying a long-lasting purple patch and there seems little sign of it ending. With a home-grown current world no. 1 as the defending champion and three of the greatest ever players all in contention, Wimbledon 2017 is shaping up to be an all-time classic.

Andy Murray will be defending his position as world number one as well as the title he won last year for a second time. Novak Djokovic could seal his fourth Wimbledon win and thirteenth Grand Slam title and the in-form Stan Wawrinka could complete a career Grand Slam, having won each of the other three big tournaments once.

The tournament line-up will be completed by the resurgent Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, winners of eighteen and fourteen Grand Slam singles titles each, including seven and two Wimbledon crowns.

With new courts and upgraded, first-class hospitality facilities, Wimbledon 2017 is the definition of unmissable.

Engage have a selection of fantastic packages for all the above events.  Click here to read more or get in touch to see how we can help you to experience better.

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Chelsea Stutter Sees Rivals Sharpening Their Knives

Chelsea

The last few weeks of the Premier League season look set for a thrilling battle, with just eleven points separating the top four teams with nine games remaining. 

Chelsea may still be the bookies’ favourites to win title, but their odds lengthened over the weekend as a wobble at home against Crystal Palace allowed Tottenham to close the gap to just to seven points.

Liverpool also moved three points closer to the long-time leaders, while Manchester City’s draw at Arsenal improved their balance by a point. One thing is for sure: if Chelsea were sitting comfortably on their ten point lead, they will be finding seven points decidedly less relaxing.

This Wednesday will see Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge for a game that will provide Antonio Conte’s side with an almost immediate opportunity to show their fans that Saturday’s loss was no more than a blip. As well as giving Chelsea a huge fillip, a home win would seriously dent Manchester City’s hopes, but another Chelsea loss would blow the title race wide open.

With so many ‘must win’ games remaining for the top teams, it’s impossible to see how the final weeks might play out.  A Chelsea procession, however, is looking less and less likely.

Liverpool could prove to be the dark horses, as they will avoid all the top teams in the remaining weeks, while, aside from Wednesday’s match, Manchester City’s only top-of-the-table clash will be their home derby against Manchester United. Tottenham, currently best placed amongst Chelsea’s rivals, have Arsenal and Manchester United yet to deal with.

Should Chelsea manage to maintain their current gap, then a home win against Middlesbrough on Monday 8th May will see them home. However, with a tough away game at Everton and both Manchester City and Manchester United due to visit Stamford Bridge before that fixture, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the league will look like at that point.

Chelsea may take some solace in the fact they are due to play at home against bottom-ranked Sunderland in the season finale, but they will be desperate to ensure they don’t leave it that late.

Having to win on the final day would come about only as a result of some very patchy late-season form, meaning their confidence would be low and their nerves frayed. With momentum firmly behind their rivals, a final-day shoot-out is not a lottery for which Chelsea want to buy a ticket.

If you would like to watch any of Chelsea’s unmissable remaining home fixtures from (the edge) of a seat in our first-class hospitality boxes, please click here to read more.

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Engage’s Guide to the 2017 6 Nations Grand Finale

6 nations

Heading in to last weekend, five of the six nations had a chance of winning the tournament.  Ireland’s battling loss in Cardiff, however, meant that England could seal the title with a home win against Scotland, which they duly achieved with a truly dominant performance.  So, is there still anything left to play for?  You bet there is.

Scotland, France, Ireland and Wales have all lost two games from four and will be desperate to avoid a losing season by claiming a win on the final weekend.  England, on the other hand, have a second consecutive Grand Slam to play for, along with the prospect of a world record for back-to-back test victories.

All three games will take place this Saturday (18th March), so let’s look a little closer at the match ups…

Scotland vs. Italy (12:30)

Scotland’s bad luck with injuries continued at the weekend with another raft of concussions and orthopaedic woes.  They will though take solace in the fixture list, as, if they could have chosen the fixture with which to close what started as a very promising campaign, it would be at home against the winless Azzurri.

Despite the long odds currently being offered, the Italians will be no walkover for a patched-up Scottish side.  They have competed for long periods in all their matches, with the exception of their drubbing by the Irish, and some early successes against the Scots could set up a thrilling second half.

France vs. Wales (15:45)

Wales’ defence was brutal against Ireland in Cardiff, with their forwards gang-tackling anything and everything that came their way, so you can expect their collisions with the enormous French pack to be wince-inducing at the very least.

France have at times looked like regaining their place among the very best test sides during this Championship, without ever catching fire and playing like the France of old.  Wales also have been struggling to get over the try line of late, meaning we are likely to see a tense war of attrition, with France’s home advantage possibly being negated by the momentum Wales will have gained from their epic win against the men in green.

Ireland vs. England (17:00)

A week ago, the smart money was backing a final weekend showdown between an Irish team fresh from a win in Cardiff and an England team who, had they read the script, would have arrived after another less than convincing win against Scotland.  As it is, Ireland can do little more than spoil England’s party.

That having been said, you can not underestimate how fired-up Ireland will be.  There is plenty of history behind this fixture and England playing in Dublin will always make for an emotional contest.  Add in the fact that the Irish lads will not like the idea of England celebrating a world record 19th consecutive win their stadium, even less a Grand Slam, and we needn’t worry about anyone just going through the motions.

England, though, are as well placed to win a huge away fixture as they have been since their 2003 Grand Slam decider in Dublin.  In the last year, Eddie Jones has taken them to a Grand Slam win in Paris, three test wins in Australia and a crucial win in Cardiff, so they won’t be unduly worried by foreign turf or partisan crowds.  They also look to be coming into form at exactly the right time and it’s hard to see them playing like they did against Scotland and losing.

The Irish will insist England will not get a chance to play that and who could argue with them?  It’s a very hard game to call, but one thing is for definite: it’s going to be an incredible test match that no rugby fan can afford to miss.

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Engage’s Guide to the Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham festival

It’s that time of year when the lure of the Cheltenham Festival proves too much for many racegoers and, in case you number amongst them, Engage have cast their eyes over the runners and riders.

At about 1.30 pm on 17th March, in the shadow of Cleeve Hill, a familiar sound will ring out around the Cotswolds: the roar that will signal the start of ‘jump racing’s Olympics’, the Cheltenham Festival.

This year, as always, Cheltenham will serve up its usual unrivalled four-day stamina test for horses and humans.

Most National Hunt trainers would rate a winner at Cheltenham as the pinnacle of their year.  In this way, jump racing is different to flat, as the latter has a series of high points through the season, from Newmarket, Epsom and Ascot to Goodwood, York and Doncaster.

Jump racing has the twin peaks of Cheltenham and Aintree, plus the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, so owners, trainers and punters have their sights set on the Cotswolds from the day they leave Cheltenham on Gold Cup day the previous year.

Engage clients will be enjoying one of sport’s most prestigious and social events from the luxury surroundings of our private boxes, so, regardless of whether they enjoy a proper punt or simply bet a couple of pounds for the craic, we thought we’d study the form and highlight some contenders for them.

Irish eyes will be smiling if the opening race goes to form, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, as horses trained by Willie Mullins have won three of the last four runnings and his travelling support will doubtless back him to continue that run of successes.

Each day has a feature race and on the Tuesday it is the Champion Hurdle, where Yanworth, trained by Alan King, heads most bookies’ lists, but he will be missing his regular jockey Barry Geraghty.

On Wednesday, there is the thrill of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, where horses go flat out over the big fences for two miles, a race that has produced such brilliant winners such as Remittance Man, Moscow Flyer and Master Minded.

This year it could be the turn of Douvan, also trained by Willie Mullins, who carried all before him in his novice chasing season and won at the Cheltenham last year.  Mullins has had many great horses pass through his hands, but he reckons Douvan, bred in France, might just be the best of them all.

On Thursday, the Ryanair Chase takes centre stage along with the Stayers’ Hurdle, run over three miles, where Unowhatimeanharry is regarded as one of the bankers of the meeting.

Those still solvent by Friday will see the main even of the week, the Gold Cup.  Run over three miles and two-and-a-half furlongs, the race is regarded as the most prestigious run over fences and the crowd will never be louder as they cheer on some tired horses coming up the Cheltenham hill.  Cue Card and Native River, both trained by Colin Tizzard, could be in the shake-up here and are well worth a look.

By the time the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup is run at 5.30pm on the final day, most revellers will know the state of their balance sheet, but win or lose, they will have had the time of their lives and will be counting the days to next year’s event.

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Tennis 2017 with Engage – It’s Back to the Future in Melbourne

Tennis

Late last year, many experts suggested that 2017 could be one of the most exciting and open seasons in years. Less than a month in, and with the first big tournament not yet over, those predictions are already proving accurate.

Andy Murray headed into the Australian Open as No.1 in the world and looked odds-on to cement his position after Novak Djokovic’s early exit. Unfortunately, he came unstuck in the fourth round against the lowly ranked Mischa Zverev. So, with the world’s two best players set to watch the semi-finals on TV, who would steal a march on their rivals?

All the attention focused on the ever-growing group of pretenders to the throne (Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and co.), who have for some time been regularly beating the established superstars and just need a little more consistency to break into the top two.

No one, however, predicted the truly epic final. Roger Federer vs Rafa Nadal (ranked 17th and 9th) turning back the clock to play out a classic five-setter, with the Swiss genius eventually taking his 18th Slam in his first tournament back after over 6 months out through injury.

Further down the rankings, Englishman Dan Evans has started to take some serious scalps, with his victories in Melbourne over Bernard Tomic and Marin Cilic perhaps signalling a move to the next level. For so long the bad boy of British tennis, Evans may now have discovered the self-belief and drive to push for the top ten and he will be confident of good showings at both Queen’s and Wimbledon this summer.

Just when we thought the Williams sisters’ domination was over, Serena beats her sister Venus in another Grand Slam final. Despite that, the women’s game is again looking extremely competitive, with a very fresh feel to the top ten. A run to the quarter-finals in Melbourne has seen Johanna Konta move up to 9th in the world, so it could yet prove to be a great summer for the Brits.

Below is our brief guide to this year’s big home events:

Aegon Queen’s Club Championships – London, 19th – 25th June

This has long been a favourite entertaining spot, with the sumptuous surroundings and proximity to central London combining to offer relaxed and luxurious hospitality options. Regular tournament victories for home-favourite Andy Murray can make for an electric atmosphere, further enhancing Queen’s status as a standout option in any event calendar.

We’ve selected two of the best possible packages to cater for a range of budgets: The Roof Garden, which has been redesigned for 2017, is an impressively light and airy facility with ample space outside to enjoy the June sunshine and sip on some Pimms; and Love Fifteen, which is an informal bistro-style facility with prices starting from only £299 + VAT per person.

The Championships, Wimbledon – London, 3rd – 16th July

Still undoubtedly the world’s premier tennis tournament, a day at Wimbledon is one of the most sought after invitations and something that is cherished by clients from around the globe.

Whether you opt for No.1 Court, where you can enjoy watching the sport’s biggest names, or Centre Court, where play takes place under the roof, come rain or shine, until the late hours, we have a range of options for you, from the discrete, luxurious private suites on Centre Court to the buzzing atmosphere of the Gatsby Club.

APT World Tour Finals – London, 13th – 19th November

This end-of-season showdown for the top 8 men’s singles and doubles players is fast becoming an institution at the O2.  It offers a dramatic contrast to the summer classics, with a vibrant atmosphere and over 20,000 spectators cheering on their favourite players from around the world. Packages will be on sale soon, so why not register your interest now to avoid missing out on the best facilities and matches?