The Royal Ascot will be staged behind closed doors this summer, providing it still goes ahead.
Initially, it was assumed that the Ascot would be postponed until late July, however due to the nature of horse racing, this delay could mean that the race is scheduled at the same time as other, competing races.
So, providing it is allowed, the Ascot will go ahead in mid-June as originally scheduled, however it is highly unlikely that it will be allowed to bring in the usual 70,000 attendees per day due to current social restrictions to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
Ascot’s spokesman, Nick Smith, said: “The things that are going on in the wider world do put this kind of thing into some perspective. This is going to be an extremely busy time for the team because we’ve got to make about 10,000 phone calls, make sure all customers are communicated with and understand what’s happening. At least we have the aspiration to run the races and deliver something for the industry. The mood is pretty positive, actually.”
The Ascot is facing ‘a challenging year’ which will affect its finances.
Smith said: “There will clearly be a material impact on prize money. That’s the reality for, I think, all races that are going to be run this year. That’s the landscape we’ll have to operate in. But it is better, I’m sure, to run the Pattern races for the good of the breed and the breeding industry, for TV and betting, than not to run the races at all. We’ll do our best but material prize money reductions will be inevitable.
Smith also acknowledged that it is unclear whether or not the races will be staged: “There’s no way of knowing. Governmental advice will be clear and so will the British Horseracing Authority’s interpretation of that advice. We will operate within that advice and be happy to do so.”
The Jockey Club also announced that its Classic races would be postponed.
Amy Starkey, who runs Newmarket, said: “Trainers need to know whether to step up preparations for their Guineas horses or put that on pause for a later date. The future is too uncertain at the moment and there is no opportunity for any preparation races before such important contests for the 2020 Classic generation.”