Facetime debriefs, streamed jockey fitness sessions and a virtual flower wall are on the cards as Ascot prepares to run the royal meeting behind closed doors.
The racecourse has shared its full plan for “Royal Ascot at home”(16 to 20 June), to bring a very different meeting into the homes of those who cannot be there in person owing to lockdown restrictions.
The enhanced 36-race programme will be shown live on television, and Ascot has plans for a host of activities in light of the fact the five days of racing will be a little different this year.
The course also has a plan for owners, who will not be able to watch their horses in person.
These include access to a live 360-degree parade ring camera feed, which will pick up each horse, via an online racing hub. Facetime debriefs to owners by trainers/jockeys both pre- and post-race are also being welcomed.
“I am thrilled that Royal Ascot and the Racehorse Owners’ Association (ROA) have been able to put together some fantastic initiatives that help to bring the magic of Royal Ascot home,” said ROA chief executive Charlie Liverton.
“They have gone to extraordinary lengths to bring owners virtually into the paddock, to speak with their trainers and jockeys and receive special behind-the-scenes access, along with personalised racecards for all those with a horse running.
“As ever, it will never replicate being able to attend in person, but rest assured we are working hard with the British Horseracing Authority and racecourses to get owners back on course as a priority.”
Would-be racegoers have been invited to dress up for the occasion at home as part of the #StyledWithThanks campaign, in aid of those affected by Covid-19.
Participants are encouraged to donate to the campaign fundraising page, share their outfit photos and spread the #StyledWithThanks message. These photos will be turned into a giant rainbow mosaic, which will become a permanent installation at the racecourse, and there are also prizes on offer for the best dressed.
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Bunting sets are being made available to download and print, a virtual Royal Ascot flower wall filter and dedicated GIFs are available on Instagram, plus there will be quizzes and a chance to receive a phone call from a racing personality.
Jockey fitness sessions will be streamed before racing, run by the Injured Jockeys Fund, and top chefs will be sharing recipies and competing in the “Coronation Chicken Stakes”, voted for by the public.
“During these unprecedented times when we aren’t able to welcome our usual 300,000 guests to the royal meeting, we want as many people as possible to enjoy the magic of from home,” said Ascot racecourse’s chief commercial officer, Juliet Slot.
“It will be a unique experience, like no other, for us all. We hope everyone will embrace the many wonderful activities and interactive challenges we have lined up on the Ascot website, in the lead up to and during the event, as well as tuning into all the live racing action on television.”
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