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Royal Ascot hopes to run behind closed doors as first four Classics postponed

Ascot racecourse has confirmed that this year’s Royal Ascot meeting will not be able to take place as an open public event, owing to the coronavirus pandemic and “public health and safety reasons.”

The popular five-day fixture is due to take place from 16-20 June. A statement from the Berkshire racecourse suggested it may be possible to run the meeting behind closed doors “dependent on government and public health policy, and the approval by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to restart racing”.

Ascot’s chief executive, Guy Henderson, said running Royal Ascot behind closed doors would be “for the benefit of the racing industry, the racecourse’s valued partners and suppliers, and television audiences at home and internationally”.

Racegoers who have already paid for entry and hospitality will be refunded in full as quickly as possible, with the racecourse team communicating with customers, initially by email, immediately.

“We thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding in completing this substantial task, given the challenging practical circumstances of the current national lockdown,” added Mr Henderson.

“The pandemic will have a significant financial impact on our business in 2020, along with so many others. Nevertheless, Ascot Racecourse will come through this crisis and we look forward to being able to welcome racegoers back when it is safe to do so.

“Meanwhile, our thoughts are with all those grieving and suffering as a result of COVID-19. We offer heartfelt thanks to our wonderful NHS staff, key workers and volunteers for all their selfless dedication.”

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It has also been confirmed by the Jockey Club that the first four Classics of the British Flat season will be delayed until later on in the season.

The 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket (scheduled for 2-3 May) and the Oaks and Derby at Epsom (5-6 June) will be held at a later date – to be confirmed when the BHA lifts the racing suspension in the UK.

British racing is currently suspended until 1 May at the earliest.

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