For the first time in her 68-year reign The Queen will miss the five-day horse racing event at Royal Ascot as the races are held behind closed doors. It’s understood that Her Majesty will be watching on television.
Royal Ascot usually sees more than 300,000 visitors to the social and sporting highlight, and The Queen, now aged 94, has attended every year of her reign.
The Queen is well-know as a horse breeder and has won around £7m from horse racing in the past 30 years, but the stands and the Royal Enclosure will be empty this year as the races are held without audience or presentations.
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The event will still feature Royal trappings such as the front gate, complete with a gold crown and union flags, and while The Queen will not be taking part in the usual royal carriage procession or occupying the Royal Enclosure, the National Anthem will be played 15 minutes before the first race each day.
The organisers of the Cheltenham Festival were criticised for going ahead with the event in March just as lockdown started, and the Queen, who has several horses in the races, will watch Royal Ascot from Windsor as the first race, the Buckingham Palace Stakes, starts at 1.15pm.
The Queen’s Horses
Royal Ascot opened to scenes of unusual quiet as coronavirus safety measures meant that the event was held without any visitors.
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The Queen’s horses include First Receiver, ridden by Frankie Dettori in the Queen’s racing colours, who will feature in the 1.50pm Ascot Hampton Court Stakes tomorrow. The colt secured The Queen a win on the anniversary of her coronation at Kempton on June 2nd.
On Wednesday, The Queen has Tactical in the 4.10 Ascot Windsor Castle Stakes, and Punctuation in the 4.10 Ascot Queen’s Vase on Friday.
Some of The Queen’s favourite horses over the years have included:
- Peggy – a Shetland pony given to The Queen by her father on her fourth birthday
- Rising Light – her father’s horse which ran in the Derby when the Queen was 19
- Monaveen – a three-mile chaser co-owned by The Queen and her mother
- Feola – a mare bought by George V who became the mainstay of The Queen’s breeding operation, grandam of Aureole and great grandam of Highclere
- Highclere and Dunfermline – successful mares, winners of the 1000 Guineas and French Oaks in 1974
- Betsy – bought from a farmer, this black mare become one of The Queen’s favourite riding horses.
- St James – a gift to The Queen from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ridden by The Queen at the Golden Jubilee celebrations
- Estimate – winner of the 2013 Gold Cup, the first time in the 207-year history of the race that it had been won by a reigning monarch.
The Queen would normally attend Royal Ascot in person but this year owners have been offered access to a virtual parade ring so they can inspect the horses before each race. This online racing hub features real-time weather data and a live 360-degree parade ring camera feed.
Queen in Windsor
The Queen has been staying at Windsor Castle for the last 13 weeks, and will be missing Royal Ascot for the first time in her 68-year reign. The event was postponed in 1955 because of a national rail strike, but The Queen attended when the event was held in July.
Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot, said: ‘Whilst the ultimate experience of being at Royal Ascot sadly isn’t possible this year, we hope that what we are planning will make ownership at home as special as possible.
‘We are particularly pleased to be able to provide owners with a feed to the Parade Ring, and to be housing all the data that all horsemen need from real time weather and going reports to post race sectionals in one, convenient place.’
Ascot at Home
The organisers of the races are holding an online Royal Ascot at Home campaign, inviting fans to dress up as they normally would for Royal Ascot, to wear a hat and to share a selfie on social media using the hashtags #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot. It’s not known whether The Queen will take part.
Participants are also being encouraged to donate £5 to support frontline charities – The National Emergencies Trust Relief Fund, NHS Charities Together, The Care Workers Charity and the Berkshire Community Foundation Coronavirus Fund.
This will be the first time in her 68-year reign that The Queen will miss the five-day horse racing event at Royal Ascot as the races are held behind closed doors. It’s understood that Her Majesty will be watching on television.