The overwhelming popularity of the extended Royal Ascot racecard in 2020 is set to become a permanent fixture, with festival chiefs confirming that there will now be seven races across each of the five days of racing.
The Copper Horse Handicap Stakes, the Buckingham Palace Stakes (restored after being dumped in the wake of the Commonwealth Cup being introduced) and the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes, which were added to the bill last year, have been retained and will act as the final race of the card on Tuesday (June 15), Thursday and Friday respectively.
The Golden Gates Stakes has also been retained and will act as the warm-up for the headlining Queen Alexandra Stakes on Saturday, while a new race – the Kensington Palace Stakes – has been approved by the Queen and will close the Wednesday session of the meeting.
The decision has been met with universal popularity, with Richard Hannon – a consistent winner at the festival – declaring to the Racing Post:
“The appetite for Royal Ascot is almost unlimited, it’s a great event for the whole industry and the more races there, the more stories created by Royal Ascot, the better. The more winning owners we can produce, the better.
“It’s the flagship meeting for the whole industry in this country. I can’t imagine it will be anything but well received by everybody.”
In a time where good news is thin on the ground for the sport, the extended Royal Ascot cards have been met with relish by everyone with a stake in racing, with Nick Smith – the director of racing at Ascot – confirming that bookmakers, the media and representatives from the Levy Board alike were all unanimous in their support for seven-race cards.
The prize money on offer is also welcome for impoverished connections, although this is yet to be confirmed by Smith as other factors – such as whether punters will be allowed at Ascot throughout the meeting – have an impact on the rewards available.
“We don’t really have any idea of when crowds will be able to return, and there’s no magic wand in terms of the levy so we don’t know the levels of prize-money on offer,” he said.
“But we’ll obviously do the very best we can and we’re preparing for every eventuality.”
The New Royal Ascot Lineup
With a total of 35 races, the new schedule for Royal Ascot will be as shown in the table below. The new races, one per day, are shown in italics.
|Tuesday 15th June||1||Queen Anne Stakes|
|Tuesday 15th June||2||Coventry Stakes|
|Tuesday 15th June||3||King’s Stand Stakes|
|Tuesday 15th June||4||St James’s Palace Stakes|
|Tuesday 15th June||5||Ascot Stakes|
|Tuesday 15th June||6||Wolferton Stakes|
|Tuesday 15th June||7||Copper Horse Stakes|
|Wednesday 16th June||1||Queen Mary Stakes|
|Wednesday 16th June||2||Queen’s Vase|
|Wednesday 16th June||3||Duke Of Cambridgeshire Stakes|
|Wednesday 16th June||4||Prince Of Wales’s Stakes|
|Wednesday 16th June||5||Royal Hunt Cup|
|Wednesday 16th June||6||Windsor Castle Stakes|
|Wednesday 16th June||7||Kensington Palace Stakes|
|Thursday 17th June||1||Norfolk Stakes|
|Thursday 17th June||2||Hampton Court Stakes|
|Thursday 17th June||3||Ribblesdale Stakes|
|Thursday 17th June||4||Gold Cup|
|Thursday 17th June||5||Britannia Stakes|
|Thursday 17th June||6||King George V Stakes|
|Thursday 17th June||7||Buckingham Palace Stakes|
|Friday 18th June||1||Albany Stakes|
|Friday 18th June||2||King Edward VII Stakes|
|Friday 18th June||3||Commonwealth Cup|
|Friday 18th June||4||Coronation Stakes|
|Friday 18th June||5||Sandringham Stakes|
|Friday 18th June||6||Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes|
|Friday 18th June||7||Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||1||Chesham Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||2||Jersey Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||3||Hardwicke Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||4||Diamond Jubilee Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||5||Wokingham Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||6||Golden Gates Stakes|
|Saturday 19th June||7||Queen Alexandra Stakes|
Here are the additional races in some more detail.
Copper Horse Handicap Stakes (Tues)
Run for the first time in 2020, the Copper Horse Handicap Stakes is contested over one mile and six furlongs by horses aged four and over. It was won by Fujaira Prince last year, who also went on to land the Ebor.
Kensington Palace Stakes (Weds)
The only brand new race on the card, the Kensington Palace Stakes is for fillies and mare aged four and over only. It will be run over the famous Old Mile.
Buckingham Palace Stakes (Thurs)
This race first ran at Royal Ascot in 2002 and took place each year until 2014. At that point it was dropped from the schedule, replaced by the Commonwealth Cup. As the only seven furlong handicap at the meeting, this race had a welcome return in 2020 and remains a fixture.
Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes (Fri)
The Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes will now headline the Friday of Royal Ascot after opening proceedings in 2020. It is a sprint race run over five furlongs for three-year-olds, and last year Art Power lived up to his name by charging clear to win by three lengths from Keep Busy.
Golden Gates Stakes (Sat)
An appetising warm-up for the final race of the whole meeting, the Golden Gates Stakes is a handicap renewal for those aged three and over, run over one mile and two furlongs. The reigning champion will be Highland Chief, a 20/1 shot who just edged out Alan King’s Tritonic on the line in 2020.