10:02AM, Friday 12 June 2020
Royal Ascot is all set for an exceptional renewal next week which will see five days of racing unfold in front of empty stands.
The event, regarded as one of the highlights in the Royal Borough’s calendar, will be run behind closed doors from June 16 to June 20 for the first time in the racecourse’s history.
Cllr Samantha Rayner, deputy leader of the council, said it was wonderful the event could continue, albeit in unique circumstances.
She said: “Normally Ascot would be completely full of people walking up the High Street on the way to the races and the town is normally alive and buzzing with the fantastic atmosphere that Royal Ascot brings.
“It will be very difficult for so many businesses and I have complete sympathy with what they are going through.”
In order to comply with Government guidelines and British Horseracing Authority instructions for behind closed doors racing, members of the public will be unable to take in the action from Ascot Heath.
The Heath, which overlooks the racecourse, will be closed to the public from 8am to 5.30pm each day because the site is restricted to essential workers from five hours before racing.
Racing fans will have to take in the action from their front rooms, with ITV Racing and Sky Sports Racing showing a bumper 36-fixture programme.
Viewers are still being encouraged to dress up as part of the racecourse’s ‘#StyledWithThanks fundraising campaign which aims to support those affected by COVID-19.
Those taking part should share photos of their raceday outfits and donate £5 if possible to the campaign’s fundraising page with proceeds going towards charities including NHS Charities Together and The Berkshire Community Foundation Coronavirus Fund.
The racecourse will also be sharing recipes from Michelin star chefs, streaming jockey fitness sessions before racing and sharing footage from previous year’s festivities as part of its Royal Ascot at Home package.
Juliet Slot, chief commercial officer at Ascot Racecourse, said: “We’re excited to launch ‘Royal Ascot at Home’ for 2020.
“During these unprecedented times when we weren’t able to welcome our usual 300,000 guests to the Royal Meeting, we want as many people as possible to enjoy the magic of the Royal Meeting from home.
“It will be a unique experience, like no other, for us all.”
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