THERE may not have been a top hat or an Arab sheikh in sight, but for thousands of York residents it was all about having fun.

More than 8,000 Yorkies crammed into the residents-only Rails Enclosure for the final day of Royal Ascot.

And it truly was the "People's Saturday".

The glorious sunshine made it the perfect picnic weather for hundreds of families, who waved and cheered as the beaming Queen drove past in the Royal Procession.

Many people wore t-shirts, shorts and skirts, and covered themselves in sun cream as temperatures soared into the eighties.

But not everyone dressed down for the occasion.

Allyson Pulleyn, from Fulford Road, accompanied in the enclosure by her mum, sister and six-year-old son, wore a huge pink hat with striking feathers.

"I do feel a bit overdressed but I just thought I should make the effort for the occasion because this probably won't happen again," she said.

"This has brought all the residents together."

Hundreds of youngsters got their first taste of a day at the races in the Rails Enclosure, with many pestering their parents to place bets for them.

Rozz Hancock, from Dringhouses, who runs Caf Concerto, placed a wager on a horse for her eight-year-old daughter, Deni, because she liked the jockey's pink colours.

"We went into the posh bit on Tuesday in all that rain but for just £4 this is better," she said.

Huge queues formed in the enclosure at the many betting totes, fast-food and beer tents.

Phil and Tania Stephenson, from Gladstone Street, took their ten-year-old son, Nathan, to see the Queen for the first time.

"The local turn-out has been brilliant," Tania said.

"Everybody has made such an effort."

Nathan added: "It was so cool to see the Queen and it has been nice and hot."

Royal Ascot's organisers said they put on the Rails Enclosure as a thank you for York's hospitality, help and patience, and for people who did not want to pay a racing rate.

Matthew Graham, 30, of Manor Drive, Acomb, summed up the joking, party spirit of the Yorkie enclosure.

He said: "I'm hoping to pick out a few winning fillies today if I can.

"I've also being having a flutter on the horses!"

Updated: 10:32 Monday, June 20, 2005