UK News: Royal Ascot could go sans fans, Four Classics rescheduled

April 7, 2020

Royal Ascot has announced that the event will not be open to the public this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Provided the meeting gets approval from the government and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), it will take place without the traditional top hats and ladies’ finery. The historic five-day meeting usually attracts 300,000 racegoers each year, including Her Majesty, The Queen, who in the past has attended the entire event.

In a statement, Ascot chief Guy Henderson said: “For public health and safety reasons we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 (16-20 June) will not be able to take place as an event open to the public.”

The Jockey Club has announced that the first four Classics of the season will be rescheduled. The 2000 and 1000 Guineas and the Derby and Oaks, due to take place in early May and June respectively, will be staged at a later date.

Racing was suspended in Britain last month due to the global coronavirus crisis. Plans are being made in the hope that the sport can resume on May 1 behind closed doors. The Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) are currently in discussions with the BHA and the Levy Board to ensure the Classics can be run.

Ruth Quinn, director of international racing and racing development at the BHA, stated: “As a sport we have a responsibility to safeguard the staging of our Classics, and to position them within a sensible, balanced schedule of complementary events wherever possible. We will continue to work together to deliver the optimal outcome within these unprecedented set of circumstances.

“We are developing plans to help ensure that a suitable race programme, for the long-term health of the sport, can be delivered in these challenging times. Naturally one of the key priorities is the staging of the generation-defining races. The plan will adapt depending on when racing recommences, but will aim to ensure that we provide suitable opportunities for the horses most likely to define the future of the thoroughbred breed if at all possible.”

Amy Starkey, east regional director for JCR and boss of Newmarket, said it was important to provide a clear statement of intent for the sports participants.

Starkey told The Sun: “With less than a month until the QIPCO Guineas Festival, trainers need to know whether to step up preparations for their Guineas horses or put that on pause for a later date. The future is too uncertain at the moment and there is no opportunity for any preparation races before such important contests for the 2020 Classic generation.

“Therefore we feel now is the right time to take the decision to cancel the QIPCO Guineas Festival and turn our attention to determining, in conjunction with the BHA, participants and stakeholders, the earliest possible opportunity to reschedule the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.”

Past The Wire Staff

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