Ascot has unveiled the running order for this year’s Royal meeting, with six extra races added to the fixture along with changes to the timing of some of the feature events.
The coronavirus shutdown has forced a number of switches to be made to the showpiece meeting, which is scheduled to kick off on June 16 and will be held behind closed doors.
Seven races are planned on the first four days, with eight on the final day highlighted by the St James’s Palace and Coronation Stakes.
The mile events would usually be held on Tuesday and Friday respectively, but with the delayed start to the campaign, they have been moved to the final day to create a bigger gap from the Guineas meeting, which is due to be staged on June 6 and 7.
The Queen Anne and King’s Stand Stakes remain in their usual slots on the first afternoon, but will be joined by the King Edward VII Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes, which will now be key Derby and Oaks trials ahead of Epsom’s planned meeting on July 4.
The Hampton Court, also an eligible Epsom trial this year, will be run on day two.
In order to provide two-year-olds with as much time as possible before the key races at Royal Ascot, the juvenile programme has been moved back with four of the six races to be staged on Friday and Saturday.
The Windsor Castle Stakes will be contested on Wednesday and the Chesham on Thursday, with the Norfolk and Albany on Friday and the Queen Mary and Coventry on Saturday.
New handicap opportunities have been added with the Buckingham Palace, which was lost from the card when the Commonwealth Cup was introduced in 2015, opening the meeting.
A Silver Royal Hunt Cup over a mile and a six-furlong Silver Wokingham Handicap will be staged, with three other races added for just 2020 – the Copper Horse Handicap over 14 furlongs for four-year-olds and over, the 10-furlong Golden Gates Handicap for three-year-olds and the five-furlong Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap, also for three-year-olds.
The British Horseracing Authority is currently planning a June 1 resumption, subject to Government approval, but Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and public affairs, underlined the venue is not taking that clearance for granted.
He said: “We are most grateful to the BHA’s race-planning team for their assistance in framing the additional races for this exceptional renewal of Royal Ascot.
“We hope these extra opportunities will be welcomed by horsemen, broadcasters and the public at home.
“Under Ruth Quinn, a lot of work has gone into scheduling an appropriate Pattern trials programme, beginning on June 3, alongside an enhanced two-year-old programme.
“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.”
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