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Plans released for proposed behind closed doors racing at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is set to feature six extra races if the Government gives the green light for sporting events to take place behind closed doors.

The event, regarded as one of the highlights of the flat racing calendar, is scheduled to run from June 16 to June 20.

The meeting would normally attract 300,000 racegoers over five days but this year the stands will be empty due to a Government ban on spectators at live sporting events.

Ascot Racecourse said seven races will be staged on the first four days, with eight on the final card.

The Buckingham Palace Handicap, lost from the card when the Commonwealth Cup was introduced in 2015, will open the meeting.

The Copper Horse Handicap, run over 14 furlongs, has also been introduced with the Queen giving her consent for the use of the new name which gives a nod to the famous statue in The Long Walk.

Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot Racecourse, said in a statement on Friday: “We are of course taking nothing for granted in terms of government’s final approval to permit behind closed doors sporting events from 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.”

The King Edward VII Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes, now key Derby and Oaks Trials, will be on the opening day in order to maximise the gap to Derby and Oaks Day (July 4).

The Hampton Court, also an eligible Epsom trial this year, will be run on day two.

In order to provide two-year-old horses with as much time as possible before the key races at Royal Ascot, the two year old programme has been moved back with four of the six races to be staged on Friday and Saturday.

Mr Smith added: “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 3rd June, alongside an enhanced two-year-old programme.”

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