THERE will be major revisions to this year’s Royal Ascot meeting, including the introduction of six extra races, changes to the running order, consolation contests for prestigious handicaps, and earlier start times throughout the week.
Ascot last month announced its intention to run the royal meeting in its regular position in the calendar, this year scheduled for June 16-20, but with no spectators permitted to attend because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with British racing, which has been stopped since March 18, not resuming until June 1 at the earliest, Ascot officials have made a number of significant amendments to facilitate extra runners and provide a suitable program for those horses being targeted at the fixture.
“We are, of course, taking nothing for granted in terms of government’s final approval to permit behind-closed-doors sporting events from June 1,” said Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and public affairs.
Chief among the changes is the introduction of six extra races across the five days, meaning there will be seven contests on every day bar Saturday, the final day of the fixture, when there will be eight races.
The seven-furlong Buckingham Palace Handicap, scrapped from the program when the Commonwealth Cup (G1) was created in 2015, returns and will be the opening race this year instead of the Queen Anne Stakes (G1).
Additionally, there will be consolation races for the Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham and three new races for this year only—the 14-furlong Copper Horse Handicap for 4-year-olds and up, the 10-furlong Golden Gates Handicap for 3-year-olds, and the five-furlong Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap for 3-year-olds. All new race names have been approved by Queen Elizabeth II.
Ascot has also shuffled the order for the King Edward VII Stakes (G2) and Ribblesdale Stakes (G2), pushing them to the first day of the meeting to provide the maximum amount of time before the July 4 Investec Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1).