Thanks to a pesky little virus called Corona, the sporting world – along with everything else really – has been thrown into disarray. With racing fans and the general public having to settle for a virtual, computerised version of the Grand National in April this year, things really did get weird. But could there be light at the end of the tunnel for fans of the Sport of Kings? And that light could be bright indeed… could Royal Ascot get the go ahead in 2020?
According to reports in the Racing Post, the chief executive of Ascot, Guy Henderson, has suggested that they would be more than willing to hold the 2020 Royal Ascot meeting behind closed doors (i.e. without spectators)… as long as they got the all-clear from the government and relevant authorities to do so.
One down side for connections would be that the financial rewards for winning any races at Royal Ascot would be significantly reduced in comparison to a standard year. Whether or not the situation will have eased sufficiently to allow this year’s Royal Ascot to go ahead, we can only guess at this stage. But, just in case, let’s have a look at some of the key races at the Royal Meeting that we would simply love to see this year:
With the likes of the 2,000 Guineas, the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Derby being postponed to “a later date” there is still a chance we might get to see these later in the campaign. But we get the impression that the Royal Ascot meeting could be something of a test case for how to run a large-scale meeting without fans in attendance. If they are able to pull it off it is quite possible we might see other meetings follow suit.
That is, of course, if they are given the opportunity to give it a go in the first place.
Other major meetings that we are hoping might get themselves in the position to run behind-closed-doors meetings before the summer is out includes Glorious Goodwood (which is scheduled to take places at the end of July and in early August), the Ebor Festival from York and the St Leger Meeting from Doncaster. We can only cross our fingers and hope.
In the meantime we are having to settle for racing action from Australia, Hong King and Japan (at the time of writing) as well as some virtual racing action, but that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to be frank. While some people might have been attracted to the concept of virtual racing after the virtual Grand National in April, for us – and many more traditional racing fans – there’s nothing like the real thing.