Royal Ascot 2020 is set to go ahead, but it will seem very different to the high-society event we’ve come to know in previous years. In this post, Peter Watton, from matched betting expert OddsMonkey, gives us the lowdown on this year’s meeting.
Royal Ascot has long been one of the most prestigious events in the flat racing calendar. A firm favourite with the Queen and other high-ranking members of the royal family, this legendary race meet features 30 races over five days, including eight thrilling Group 1 races. And, with a deep prize fund that usually runs into several millions, it’s one of the most valuable events in flat racing, too.
At the start of June, organisers announced that Ascot would be taking place behind closed doors for the first time in the 300-year history of the event, meaning there will be no live spectators. So, while we’ll finally get to see some live horseracing on our TVs, this year’s Ascot will seem rather different to previous years. For one thing, it certainly won’t be the glittering social event that we’ve grown accustomed to, as the Queen and other famous attendees will be staying safely at home.
Even though a racing event without any live spectators might seem strange, there’s still a lot to look forward to, particularly if you’ve been missing live racing these past few months. There will also be plenty of betting opportunities for those of us who fancy a flutter. Here, I’ll outline how Royal Ascot 2020 will be different to previous years, along with a few insider betting tips.
When and where is Royal Ascot 2020?
This year’s Royal Ascot will take place from Tuesday 16th to Saturday 20th June at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire. But, unlike previous events, when you’d be able to view the races from one of Ascot’s luxurious enclosures, the only way to see the action this year will be on your TV.
All fixtures will be broadcast on Sky Sports Racing and ITV1, starting at 1.15pm each weekday from Tuesday to Friday and 12.40pm on the Saturday. The final fixture is at 4.40pm each day.
Are all the fixtures still taking place?
All 30 of the usual racing fixtures will be taking place at this year’s event, as well as an additional six races, the biggest of which are the Copper Horse Handicap, the Golden Gates Handicap, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap. A few other races, including the St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes, have been moved to the final day to allow a longer break following the recent Guineas Stakes at Newmarket.
The timings for the biggest fixtures — the Group 1 races — are as follows:
Day one – Tuesday, June 16
13:50 – The Queen Anne Stakes
15:35 – The King’s Stand Stakes
Day two – Wednesday, June 17
15:00 – The Prince of Wales’s Stakes
Day three – Thursday, June 18
15:35 – The Gold Cup
Day four – Friday, June 19
15:35 – The Commonwealth Cup
Day five – Saturday, June 2
13:50 – Coronation Stakes 15:00 – The St James’s Palace Stakes
15:35 – The Diamond Jubilee Stakes
What is the prize fund this year?
The prize fund at Royal Ascot normally runs into several millions, and this year it was due to hit a record-breaking £8,000,000. However, the prize fund relies on revenue from ticket and hospitality sales, and as no-one will be able to attend the racecourse in person this year, organisers have had to reduce the value of the pot to £3.68 million. All eight Group 1 fixtures will be still be run for £250,000 each, and it’s been agreed that no race will have a purse of less than £35,000. All races will also close at the six-day stage and entry fees will be as normal, beginning at 1.25% for Group 1 races.
If the return of major flat racing fixtures wasn’t enough, Royal Ascot also offers plenty of opportunities to place a bet or two. Below, I’ve shared a few tips that will help to increase your chances of picking a winner.
Listen to tipsters
If you’d like some expert help, you could consider seeking out a tipster for some insider info. They may not be able to predict the future with 100% accuracy but, if they’ve been following the sport for years, they just might have an insight or two that can help you to make a more informed choice. Some of the best tipsters charge for their services, so don’t be surprised if they ask for a fee.
Check the race card
There will be online race cards where you can see all the details of each runner at a glance, including the horses that are tipped to win. Be sure to take a look at each horse’s previous record and take into account how they perform under different conditions in order to make the most informed choice.
Keep an eye on the going
When trying to pick a winner, you’ll want to check the latest going report and weather conditions, as these can affect how well each runner performs. Check Ascot’s going report regularly to get the best idea of what the turf will be like before making your bet.
Factor in the break from racing
The extended break we’ve taken during what’s normally the peak of the flat season could affect each runner differently. So, it’s well worth doing your research to see which horses and jockeys have historically performed best when they’ve had a long break between fixtures.
Take a lucky guess
If you’re more concerned with having a bit of fun than trying to make a profit, then you could always just trust your gut and go for a horse because you like the name or the jockey’s colours. You never know when an underdog might place and often these bets can be the most exciting.
What else is happening at this year’s Ascot?
As anyone who’s ever attended the meet will know, Ascot is as much about luxury and refined glamour as it is about the races themselves. More than any other meet in British racing, the event has become synonymous with high fashion, fine food and drink, and rubbing shoulders with celebrities. While you might not be able to do these things at the racecourse anymore, organisers have prepared a televised schedule of celebrity guest appearances and fashion moments so viewers can still get their fix of Ascot atmosphere at home.
Royal Ascot is also hosting an online competition called #StyledWithThanks, where racing fans can submit a photo of their best headwear. It costs £5 to enter with all proceeds going to NHS and care charities, and the winners will receive VIP tickets and dining vouchers for next year’s event. So, if you’d already gotten your race day outfit ready before the lockdown hit, be sure to get involved — it’s all for a good cause. Ascot might have been forced to close its gates to the public this year but you can still join in with the fun at home. And, with an extra six fixtures, there’s sure to be plenty of excellent racing to enjoy!