It can be said that Royal Ascot has been COVIT free in 2020, but it has certainly ‘been safe’ in rescuing the re-scheduling of The Derby and 2000 Guineas this year.
The Gr2 King George VI Stakes of 1½m for 3yo colts and geldings, is moved to Day 1, Tuesday 16 June, the furthest day from the Investec Derby, now on Saturday 6 July at Epsom.
The Gr2 Ribblesdale Stakes of 1½m for 3yo fillies now joins the ‘King George’ on the Opening Day, the maximum 18 days prior to the Investec Oaks, also on 6 July at Epsom.
The Gr1 St James’s Palace Stakes of 1m for 3yo colts moves to the final day of Royal Ascot on Saturday 20 June, giving two weeks from Kameko’s victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
What now of Kameko’s completing the ‘summer grand slam’ of the 2000 Guineas, Royal Ascot and then onto The Derby itself at Epsom on Saturday 4 July.
Or further still in following Golden Horn, the British Horse of The Year in 2015, in winning The Derby, then the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and attempting the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Also following Love’s win in the 1000 Guineas, the Gr1 Coronation Stakes of 1m for 3yo fillies joins the St James’s Palace Stakes on the final day of the Royal Meeting.
Nick Smith, Royal Ascot’s Director of Racing and Public Affairs was ‘most grateful of the British Horseracing Authority race-planning team in assisting to frame the additional races for Royal Ascot.’
‘Under BHA Director of Racing 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.’
Royal Ascot has also moved its Two-Year-Old programme to both ends of the meeting, giving the juveniles extra time on their debuts.
In announcing this year’s Royal Ascot programme Nick Smith stated ‘we are taking nothing for granted in the government’s final approval to permit behind-closed-doors sporting events from June 1.’
‘In announcing the programme, the dates of the royal meeting are already public as part of the wider schedule for resumption, so that horsemen can begin their detailed planning.’
In a new and broadened programme has reinstated the Buckingham Palace Handicap of 7 furlongs, opening Royal Ascot 2020 as Race 1, instead of the Queen Anne Stakes which is the second race.
In losing its position to the Commonwealth Stakes in 2015, the Buckingham Palace Handicap is one of six extra races introduced across five days, with one on every day and eight on the Saturday final day.
With all new race names approved by The Queen, the Silver Royal Hunt Cup Handicap of 1m for 3yo and Upwards is the consolation race for the Royal Hunt Cup, both held on Day 2, Wednesday 17 June.
In addition to the Wednesday card is the Cooper House Handicap of 1¾ miles for 3yo and Upwards, that will be greatly appreciated by the expanding duel-purpose trainers in Britain and Ireland.
Opening Day 3, the Gold Cup Day, is the new Golden Gates Handicap for 3yo’s over 1¼ miles, while on Friday the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap of 5 furlongs for 3yo’s has been added.
The Wokingham Stakes of 6 furlongs for 3yo+ is now supported by the Silver Wokingham Stakes for 3yo+ over 6 furlongs of Saturday, the final day of Royal Ascot.
Again this year the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes and Norfolk Stakes are ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier races for the Breeders’ Cup on 6,7 November at Keeneland.