Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

Coronavirus: Royal Ascot meet still on for June - but Queen Elizabeth II and spectators will not attend

Officials have announced the public will not be permitted to attend this year's June 16-20 event due to the coronavirus pandemic

Queen Elizabeth II presents Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, with the Diamond Jubilee trophy after Blue Point's victory at Royal Ascot last year. EPA
Queen Elizabeth II presents Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, with the Diamond Jubilee trophy after Blue Point's victory at Royal Ascot last year. EPA

Royal Ascot will take place behind closed doors this season, if it goes ahead as planned in June.

The five-day fixture not only features top class on-track action, but is also a renowned social occasion, with the Queen's carriage procession before racing a highlight for many.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashing, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, regularly attends the royal meet each year with his Godolphin stable.

However, officials have announced the public will not be permitted to attend the June 16-20 event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Guy Henderson, Ascot's chief executive said: "For public health and safety reasons, we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 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 British Horseracing Authority for us to restart 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."

Henderson also outlined the expected financial consequences of the decision.

He added: "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."

Updated: April 7, 2020 09:31 PM

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