Royal Ascot to be held behind closed doors if it goes ahead

Tue 7th Apr 2020, 16:50

The royal procession entering the parade ring at Ascot
© Photo Healy Racing

This year's Royal Ascot meeting which is scheduled to take place from June 16 to 20 will only be held behind closed doors if it goes ahead at all.

The five-day Flat racing spectacular is normally one of the social occasions of the year but officials have announced that the public will not be permitted to attend this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ascot Racecourse Chief Executive Guy Henderson issued the following statement this afternoon:

For public health and safety reasons we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 (16th - 20th June) will not be able to take place as an event open to the public. This will of course be a great disappointment for everyone planning to attend.

It may prove possible to run the Royal Ascot races behind closed doors, dependent on Government and public health policy and the approval of the BHA for us to re-start racing. This would be for the benefit of the industry, our valued partners and suppliers and our television audiences at home and internationally. Planning for this is now our complete focus and we will update on progress as and when we can.

Customers who have already paid for entry and hospitality at Royal Ascot will be refunded in full in the usual way as quickly as possible and we will start the process of communicating with them, initially by email, immediately. We thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding in completing this substantial task given the challenging practical circumstances of the current national lockdown.

The pandemic will have a significant financial impact on our business in 2020, along with so many others. Nevertheless, Ascot Racecourse will come through this crisis and we look forward to being able to welcome racegoers back when it is safe to do so.

Meanwhile, our thoughts are with all those grieving and suffering as a result of COVID-19. We offer heartfelt thanks to our wonderful NHS staff, key workers and volunteers for all their selfless dedication.

THE IRISH TIMES