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Royal Ascot 2020: the must-have guide to a five-day horseracing extravaganza

The royal procession: will not take place at Royal Ascot this year
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Royal Ascot is a five-day festival with the best horses from around the world competing at the highest level. The meeting consists of 36 races, beginning with the reintroduced Buckingham Palace Handicap at 1.15 on Tuesday.

The action will be live on Sky Sports Racing and ITV, while you can also stream and bet on races at the meeting on the Racing Post website and mobile app. 

Why is Royal Ascot so important?

Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, Ascot boasts a rich history. Royal Ascot dates back to 1911 and is the highlight at the track each year.

The Queen has attended every royal meeting during her reign, arriving by horse-drawn carriage in a royal procession each day.

However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, her majesty will not be present on-course this year and the meeting will be held behind-closed-doors with a rearranged racing schedule.   

This year there will be £3,680,000 in prize-money on offer, a 55 per cent reduction from the £8,095,000 figure announced in December last year due to the impact of coronavirus.

What is the feature race?

There are eight Group 1 contests at Royal Ascot and the standout is the Gold Cup, which was first run in 1807. The Queen was the first ruling monarch to win the race when Estimate won in 2013. 

Stradivarius: winning his second Gold Cup last year

Run over 2m4f, the Gold Cup is the most prestigious event for stayers and will take place at 3.35pm on Thursday. Two-time winner Stradivarius bids to record a memorable hat-trick in the race. 

What are the other highlights?

There are two Group 1s on Tuesday: the Queen Anne Stakes (1.50) and the King's Stand Stakes (3.35), with top sprinter Battaash aiming for his first victory in the last-named contest.

Frankel, who retired unbeaten after 14 starts, was a brilliant winner of the Queen Anne in 2012.

There is one Group 1 on Wednesday, the Prince of Wales's Stakes (3.00), won last year by outstanding middle-distance campaigner Crystal Ocean for Sir Michael Stoute.

Alongside the Gold Cup on Thursday, there is the Group 3 Jersey Stakes (2.25), landed by future Queen Anne winner Ribchester in 2016. 

Ribchester: capturing the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot

The Group 1 Commonwealth Cup (3.00) is the feature race on Friday and will attract racing's top three-year-old sprinters, with US trainer Wesley Ward bidding for an eleventh success at Royal Ascot with Kimari.

The final day of the meeting this year features a Group 1 triple-header. The Coronation Stakes, which was established in 1840 to mark the coronation of Queen Victoria two years earlier, will see the best three-year-old fillies over a mile lock horns before the colts do battle in the St James's Palace Stakes.

The Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs is the feature contests on the final day and was won last year by the brilliant Blue Point, who recorded a stunning sprint double by following up his King's Stand triumph earlier in the week.

Quickfire stats

Top trainer
Sir Michael Stoute leads the way among those still training with 81 runners. His closest pursuer Aidan O'Brien is on 70.

Top jockey
With 67 Royal Ascot winners, Frankie Dettori is the most successful jockey in the weighing room, with Ryan Moore, who had a record nine winners at the meeting in 2015, behind him on 57. 

Course records
Miss Andretti set the record time at Ascot for five furlongs in 2007 with a time of 57.44 seconds, while Alpha Centauri holds the fastest time over a mile on the round course, after winning the 2018 Coronation Stakes in a time of 1m 35.89s.

International involvement
There have been 151 overseas-trained winners at Royal Ascot since 2000, with Ireland providing 110, France 20 and the US 11. 

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Frankel, who retired unbeaten after 14 starts, was a brilliant winner of the Queen Anne in 2012
E.W. Terms