The Queen was unable to attend this year’s race for the first time in her history as monarch. Mentioning the “challenging times” and the “different” experience for those who would normally see the event in person, the Queen said she was sure it would still be a “highlight of the racing calendar”.
The event, which lasts five days and is held in Berkshire, is usually attended by some 300,000 guests.
But this years race will be the most different yet as there will be no royal carriage procession, no trophy ceremony and no guests, including the Queen herself.
The decision to not include any guests was taken in line with the Government’s advice for the prevention of coronavirus contagion.
In her annual address, which marks the beginning of the racecards, the Queen said: “I send my best wishes to the thousands of racing professionals and enthusiasts who will join me in celebrating this year’s Royal Ascot.”
“In these challenging times, we are once again delighted to welcome the best horses and jockeys from across the world and pay tribute to those who have helped make this race meeting possible.”
“This year Ascot will feel different for many, as it is so often a chance for friends, families and colleagues to gather together and enjoy a shared passion.”
She added: “I am sure however, that with the valiant efforts of the organisers, owners, trainers and stable staff, it will remain one of Britain’s finest sporting occasions and a highlight of the racing calendar.”
“To everyone attending Royal Ascot, in person or virtually, I hope you have a most enjoyable and unique week of racing.”
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The Queen is also expecting Punctuation to race in the 4.10 Ascot Queen’s Vase on Friday.
The Queen, as an owner, will be able to see her horses in a a virtual Royal Ascot parade ring.
The especially set up Racing Hub was introduced in light of the current crisis and it includes sections such as real time weather data and a live 360 degree parade ring camera feed.
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.”
The Queen, who has extended knowledge of horses and breeding of racehorses, had been attending Ascot every year.
In 1955, the date of the race was adjourned due to the national rail strike and moved in July instead.
The Queen still attended the later July event with her sister Princess Margaret.
Royal Ascot has urged followers across the world to dress u and wear a hat, as it is traditionally done at the races.
The campaign also invites people to share pictures of themselves on social media accompanied by the the hashtags #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot.