With COVID-19 disrupting the sporting calendar in 2020, horse racing has also been affected. Here, Peter Watton, from matched betting specialists OddsMonkey, gives us an insight into what we can expect from Royal Ascot this month.
In spite of the ongoing COVID-19 turmoil, there has been some respite for horse racing fans as it was confirmed that action will resume this month, including the top event of the flat season: Royal Ascot.
It’s certainly a bonus to see one of the most prestigious fixtures in the racing running once more, and you will be able to follow all the action as you usually would at home.
However, there will be some big changes to this year’s event. Due to lockdown restrictions, the meet will be held behind closed doors with no spectators in attendance, the first time this has happened in the event’s 119-year history. Even the royal family, who’re usually a fixture of Ascot, will be asked to stay at home. In fact, there will only be essential staff, trainers, and jockeys present in 2020.
Thankfully, there’s still much to look forward to this year, with plenty of racing to watch and bets to place, so it’s still the ideal event to have a little flutter. Below, I’m going to give you the run down of this year’s festival, as well as some betting pointers if you need them.
When and where is Royal Ascot 2020?
The good news is that the festival is pretty soon! It will be taking place at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire and you can tune from the 16–20 June, with the first race at 1.15pm each weekday from Tuesday to Friday, and 12.40pm on the Saturday. The final race each day is at 4.40pm.
Every race will be shown on Sky Sports Racing and you can catch coverage each day of the festival on ITV starting at 1pm. The current health crisis means that the event is closed to the public, so viewing from home will be the only option this year.
Will it be the same race fixtures?
In previous years, there have been 30 races held at Royal Ascot. However, at this year’s festival that number has been increased to 36, with an additional six races added. These new additions include the Copper Horse Handicap, Golden Gates Handicap, and Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap. Some existing races have been moved to the final day.
What are the races to look out for?
As usual, Royal Ascot will host a number of exciting races, including the prestigious Gold Cup. The Group 1 fixtures will be the ones that attract the most interest. Here’s what to look out for this year:
Day one – Tuesday, June 16
- The Queen Anne Stakes, 13:50
- The King’s Stand Stakes, 15:35
Day two – Wednesday, June 17
- The Prince of Wales’s Stakes, 15:00
Day three – Thursday, June 18
- The Gold Cup, 15:35
Day four – Friday, June 19
- The Commonwealth Cup, 15:35
Day five – Saturday, June 20
- The Coronation Stakes, 13:50
- The St James’s Palace Stakes, 15:00
- The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, 15:35
What is the prize money this year?
Every sport has had a hard time in the wake of COVID-19, and horse racing is no exception. This has seen the prize fund lessened from £8 million to £3.68 million for 2020. It’s been agreed that all the Group 1 fixtures will have a prize of £250,000 and that no race will have a purse of less than £35,000.
How do I find my perfect runner?
Even though there won’t be any crowds at Royal Ascot this year, there’s still room for plenty of bets to be placed from home. If you fancy a flutter, you’re probably already scanning the racecard looking for that perfect horse to back. Here are a few tips for picking your runner.
Listen to what the pundits have to say
If you’re looking for expert advice, there are plenty of pundits who will be offering tips. While they are not always right, they are professionals who have years of experience and access to stats and information others don’t, so their opinion is always worth listening to. So, be sure to check the TV, paper, or have a look online to see what’s being said.
Look at the odds
Similar to pundits, bookies are experts who have crunched those numbers in an effort to predict the winner. The odds they offer are a direct reflection of who they think will be the best. Therefore, its worth taking their opinion on board as well. You should also use the odds to decide if you want to back a low risk, low win favourite or take a flutter on an outsider for maximum profit.
Take a chance
If you’re not a serious gambler, you may wish to back a horse based on factors other than odds or the pundit’s tips. See a name that makes you laugh? Put a few quid on. Does a horse look like it’s got a winning look to it? Go right ahead! This approach to betting is about taking a chance and having fun. You never know, you might just strike it lucky!
With Royal Ascot going ahead, we’ve all got something to look forward to this June. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of what to expect and some ideas for placing your bets. Good luck!