Royal Ascot announces six additional races for 2020 edition behind closed doors

Marcus Armytage
The Telegraph
Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 22, 2019 Blue Point ridden by James Doyle wins the 4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs/File Photo - Action Images via Reuters
Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 22, 2019 Blue Point ridden by James Doyle wins the 4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs/File Photo - Action Images via Reuters

There may not be a bumper crowd at Royal Ascot this year but there will be a bumper programme after the course announced an extra six races, including consolation races for the popular handicaps, the Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham, at the five day fixture.

Normally Ascot sticks rigidly to six races a day but there will now be seven on each of the first four days and eight on the Saturday.

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The other new races will all be handicaps including the resuscitated Buckingham Palace Handicap, which made way for the Commonwealth Cup a few years ago, the Copper Horse Handicap (1m 6f ), the Golden Gates Handicap (10f) and the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap (5f).

To accommodate Guineas runners, the St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes will both move to the Saturday while the Edward VII and Ribblesdale, previously consolation races for the Derby and Oaks, will be run as trials for those Classics on the opening day to give a few more days between races and the Hampton Court, also a trial, will be run on Wednesday.

Likewise most two-year-old will have only had one run at most and the bulk of those races will be run on Friday and Saturday to give juveniles a few extra days.

All of this, including the names for the new races, has been given the Queen’s consent. Prize-money for the races will be announced in due course.

Describing Ascot 2020 as ‘an exceptional renewal’ Nick Smith, director of communication at Ascot, said: “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. We are announcing the programme today, with the dates of the Royal meeting already public as part of the wider schedule for resumption, so that horsemen can begin their detailed planning.”

Royal trainer Andrew Balding, who was on the score sheet at the Royal Meeting last year, welcomed the news. “I’m very happy to have more opportunities in a tough year,” he said. “It’s a very positive move and a real help.”

Richard Hannon echoed those sentiments. “I think it’s brilliant,” he said. “The more all-inclusive the meeting is the better. Ascot’s all about expectation. It quite often ends in disappointment. But I can’t see a downside to this programme.”

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