Here, Peter Watton from the matched betting site OddsMonkey shares his insight into how this year’s Royal Ascot will be affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
While many of this year’s biggest sporting events have been cancelled or postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Royal Ascot will be going ahead. This is music to the ears of horseracing fans, but the 2020 edition is going to look somewhat different to the event we’re used to.
Royal Ascot is typically a very social affair, where people get dressed up to the nines to spend the day celebrating and placing bets with their friends. This year, with certain lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines in place, the organisers are having to take some serious precautions. Here’s what you need to know.
It will be held behind closed doors
Royal Ascot has a history spanning more than 250 years, but this is the first time the event will be held behind closed doors. This means, while people are welcome to watch and bet on the races from the comfort of their own homes, nobody will be invited to spectate in person.
This is to ensure the event runs in accordance with the UK government’s current social distancing guidelines. Royal Ascot attracts thousands of people each year; if it were to go ahead as usual, keeping everyone two metres apart would be impossible. The organisers have therefore ruled that, while it will still go ahead, it isn’t yet safe enough to have spectators in the stands.
There will be no royal presence
Each day of Royal Ascot usually begins with a Royal Procession, which is when the Queen and accompanying members of the royal family arrive in horse-drawn carriages. Our monarch has been attending this annual event since 1946, but she isn’t expected to be there this year.
Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been to any public engagements since the coronavirus pandemic made its way to the UK, and it’ll likely be a while before it’s safe for her to return to these duties. She’s also yet to confirm whether she’ll be attending Royal Ascot in 2021 but, with so much uncertainty surrounding the easing of social distancing measures, this isn’t surprising.
You’ll have to place your bets online or at a betting shop
There’s something special about placing a bet with a bookie at Royal Ascot, but this option just won’t be available this year. Instead, you’ll have to rely on betting websites and shops.
It seems most betting shops are planning to open from Monday 15 June — just in time to catch the Royal Ascot crowds. Of course, with many of the summer’s sporting events cancelled and shops being shut for a while, you might find that bookies are offering incredible deals to convince you to bet with them over their competitors. It’s well worth doing your research to ensure you’re getting the best odds and offers.
They’re still encouraging fans to wear their best outfits at home
One of the big draws of Royal Ascot is that everyone gets to dress up and have a great time with their friends. While you might not be able to enjoy the social aspect of the event this year, there’s nothing stopping you from making the most of the week by putting on your best clothes to watch the races!
Ascot is actually running a #StyledWithThanks campaign, where they’re asking people to take a photo of themselves all dressed up at home. Anyone who shares a photo on social media, hashtagging #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot, will be entered into a draw to win some incredible prizes. Participants are also being encouraged to donate £5 to the accompanying fundraiser, which will be used to support frontline workers and those affected by COVID-19.
Royal Ascot 2020 is set to look a lot different to other years, but it’s still going to be a world-class event. If you’ve been looking forward to the meeting, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it from home. Throw your best clothes on, place some bets online, and start getting excited for 2021, when things will hopefully be back to normal.