Royal Ascot will be bigger than ever in 2020 after the Queen’s racecourse broke with tradition to serve punters up a whopping 36-race extravaganza.
The glittering fixture is historically limited to six races per day – hosting 30 heats each year since it was expanded to five days in 2002.
But, after receiving the royal seal of approval, Ascot bosses have beefed up the programme – Royal Ascot
Tuesday to Friday’s cards will consist of seven contests apiece, before the action climaxes with an eight-strong finale on Saturday.
Describing this summer’s offering as an “exceptional renewal”, Ascot’s Director of Racing and Public Affairs Nick Smith said: “We hope these extra opportunities will be welcomed by horsemen, broadcasters and the public at home.
“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.
Newcomers to the party are consolations to the big betting handicaps of royal week, the Silver Royal Hunt Cup and the Silver Wokingham, to open proceedings on Wednesday and Saturday.
The Copper Horse Handicap (1m6f, Wednesday), the Golden Gates Handicap (10f, Thursday) and the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap (5f, Friday) are also new additions, while the seven-furlong Buckingham Palace Handicap, which lost its place to the Commonwealth Cup in 2015, makes a comeback as the meeting’s curtain-raiser on Tuesday.
In a change to the traditional running order, the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes will be run on the fixture’s final day to allow runners from the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas – scheduled to take place on June 6 and 7 – maximum recovery time.
The Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes – effectively trials for the Investec Derby and Oaks – have been switched to Tuesday afternoon.
The new look found favour with Frankie Dettori, crowned Royal Ascot’s top jockey for the sixth time in 2019, who said: “I’m praying everything goes ahead as planned – and that I win as many of the races as possible!”