Here, Peter Watton from matched betting site OddsMonkey shares his insight into how Royal Ascot 2020 will differ from previous years.
Although many of this year's biggest sporting events have been cancelled, we now know that Royal Ascot will be going ahead. The 2020 meeting is set to look very different to what we're used to, though, due to the lockdown and social-distancing measures that are still in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
If you've been looking forward to this year's Royal Ascot, you might be wondering what to expect from the event. Here, I'm going to explain what the meeting is going to look like, and how it will differ from previous years.
When and where will it take place?
This year's Royal Ascot will run from Tuesday 16th to Saturday 20th June. As always, it will take place at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire.
What will the itinerary look like?
There are usually 30 races at Royal Ascot, but there will be 36 this year. The new fixtures that have been added include the Copper Horse Handicap, the Golden Gates Handicap, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap. Certain races that would usually take place early in the week have also been moved to the final day. Here's when the Group 1 races will be happening:
Day one – Tuesday 16th June
1:50pm – The Queen Anne Stakes
3:35pm – The King's Stand Stakes
Day two – Wednesday 17th June
3:00pm – The Prince of Wales's Stakes
Day three – Thursday 18th June
3:35pm – The Gold Cup
Day four – Friday 19th June
3:35pm – The Commonwealth Cup
Day five – Saturday 20th June
1:50pm – Coronation Stakes
3:00pm – The St James's Palace Stakes
3:35pm – The Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Has the prize fund been affected?
Yes, due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Royal Ascot organisers have been forced to slash the prize fund by more than half. Instead of the usual £8 million, there will be £3,680,000 up for grabs this year. Those competing in the Group 1 races will be in with a chance of winning £250,000, and all other prizes will be at least £35,000.
Can the public attend?
This year's event will be held behind closed doors, which means members of the public won't be able to attend. Instead, if you're interested in catching any of the races, you'll have to watch on TV or online.
Unfortunately, this means you won't be able to bet in person at Royal Ascot, either. The good news is that you can still place your bets online, and most betting shops will also be reopening just in time for the meeting. So, you can still make it somewhat of a social event. Just make sure, if you do go along to a betting shop, that you wear your mask at all times and abide by the latest social distancing guidelines. You can visit the government website for the most recent information.
Will the Queen be there?
A Royal Procession usually kicks off each day of the Royal Ascot meeting. So, the Queen and accompanying members of the royal family will arrive in horse-drawn carriages before the first race begins. Queen Elizabeth II has been attending Royal Ascot since 1946, but this is going to be the first time she misses it.
She hasn't attended any public engagements since the corona virus made its ways to the UK, and it's likely to be a while before it's considered safe for her to return to these duties. Hopefully, things will be back to normal next year so she's able to attend Royal Ascot 2021!
Will people still be dressing up?
One of the most exciting aspects of Royal Ascot is that everyone gets to put on their best clothes and celebrate with their friends. Of course, it won't be as much of a social event this year, but there's nothing stopping you from making the most of the opportunity to dress up at home!
Royal Ascot is actually encouraging you to do just that with its #StyledWithThanks campaign. campaign. They're asking people to take photos of themselves in their dresses and suits while they're watching the races at home. Anyone who then shares those photos with the hashtags #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot will then be entered into a prize draw. Those participating are also being asked to donate £5 to the accompanying fundraiser, which has been set up to help those affected by COVID-19, whether they've lost someone or have been working on the frontline.
Although Royal Ascot 2020 is set to look very different to the events we've seen in previous years, it's still going to be a world-class meeting. There's no reason why you and your household can't make the most of the week from the comfort of your own home, so pick your horses, put on your glad rags, and enjoy!
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