How to watch 2020 Royal Ascot: TV schedule, live stream, where it is held, start times

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Back in March, the British Horseracing Authority suspended racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the racing world regains a sense of normalcy with the Royal Ascot, beginning Tuesday, June 16 in England. Watch the Royal Ascot on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app Tuesday, June 16 to Saturday, June 20 (see broadcast schedule and race schedule below).

What is the Royal Ascot? The Royal Ascot is one of the most well-known horse racing meets in the world. It’s held at one of the top flat racecourses in the United Kingdom and hosts horses from across the globe in 36 races, including eight Group 1 races, over the span of five days.

Racing at Ascot began in 1711 when Queen Anne declared her love for horse racing. The first race was “Her Majesty’s Plate” with seven horses competing. Over a century later, King George IV held the first royal carriage procession on the track to signal the start of the event. The traditions of the royal family, high fashion and elite horse racing have continued ever since.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s prize money will decrease by half. A record £7.3 million (approximately $9.3 million in U.S. dollars) was distributed last summer compared to £3.68 million (approximately $4.7 million USD) this summer.

When and where is the Royal Ascot 2020? For the first time in history, the event will take place without its usual large crowds, running from Tuesday, June 16 and to Saturday, June 20 at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. Unlike tracks in the U.S., Ascot Racecourse is shaped like a rounded triangle with two straightaway spokes and includes uphill and downhill stretches.

How can I watch the 2020 Royal Ascot? NBC is home to the 2020 Royal Ascot, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV, in the NBC Sports app and on NBCSports.com before, during and after each race. From Tuesday, June 16 to Friday, June 19, coverage will run on NBCSN from 8:30 a.m. ET to 12 p.m. The final day’s coverage on Saturday, June 20 will move to NBC from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Stream the Royal Ascot here.

Is the Royal Ascot part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series? Four Royal Ascot races this year are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

On Tuesday, June 16, the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at approximately 8:50 a.m. ET offers a spot in the TVG Mile. June 17’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) breaks from the gate at around 10 a.m. ET and is a qualifier for the Longines Turf. The Norfolk Stakes (G2) on Friday, June 19 at 9:25 a.m. ET is in the Juvenile Turf Sprint division. The Diamond Jubilee (G1) wraps up Royal Ascot’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series lineup on Saturday, June 20 at approximately 10:35 a.m. ET with a spot in the Turf Sprint on the line. See the full race schedule below.

Winners of Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races will receive automatic entry into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race this November at Keeneland, and all entry fees will be paid for.

What are traditions at the Royal Ascot? There will be no spectators at this year’s event. However, there are usually upwards of 300,000 spectators, making it Europe’s highest-attended race meeting. This year, there will be no appearance from Queen Elizabeth II, who has attended the event for over seven decades, or any other royal family members. Traditionally, the Queen makes a daily entrance in a horse-drawn carriage as part of the royal procession.

The food served at this event is typically a major attraction. Last summer, there were approximately 110,000 cups of tea served, 120,000 buttermilk scones eaten and nearly 350 chefs serving food. Luckily, such delicacies can be prepared at home in the kitchen, as many fans will watch the races from their living rooms.

The Royal Ascot’s longest-running race, The Gold Cup, takes place on Thursday of the week’s schedule (June 18, approx. 10:35 a.m. ET, NBCSN). It’s a marathon of a race at 2 miles and 4 furlongs, and the Queen typically presents the trophies to the winning jockey and owner.

What is fashion like at the Royal Ascot? The Royal Ascot is as much a social event as it is a sporting event. Therefore, high fashion is one of the event’s most defining features. Guests in attendance must adhere to strict dress codes.

Men’s attire traditionally requires a top hat and a waistcoat with a tie (except for the jockeys). Women’s fashion includes a long dress or skirt and a required hat or headpiece with a base of four inches. Over the five days, only the most elegant of outfits are presented, with women saving their best dress for Ladies’ Day, which was originally set for Wednesday June 17 this year.

For the first time ever, top hats and coattails won’t be required as the Royal Ascot prepares for an unusual meet without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full Royal Ascot race schedule:

Tuesday, June 16

  • 8:15 a.m. ET — The Buckingham Palace Handicap
  • 8:50 a.m. ET — The Queen Anne Stakes (G1) — Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series (TVG Mile)
  • 9:25 a.m. ET — The Ribblesdale Stakes (G2)
  • 10:00 a.m. ET — The King Edward VII Stakes (G2)
  • 10:35 a.m. ET — The King’s Stand Stakes (G1)
  • 11:10 a.m. ET — The Duke of Cambridge Stakes (G2)
  • 11:40 a.m. ET — The Ascot Stakes (Handicap)

Wednesday, June 17

  • 8:15 a.m. ET — The Silver Royal Hunt Cup Handicap
  • 8:50 a.m. ET — The Hampton Court Stakes (G3)
  • 9:25 a.m. ET — The King George V Stakes (Handicap)
  • 10:00 a.m. ET — The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) — Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series (Longines Turf)
  • 10:35 a.m. ET — The Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap)
  • 11:10 a.m. ET — The Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
  • 11:40 a.m. ET — The Copper Horse Handicap

Thursday, June 18

  • 8:15 a.m. ET — The Golden Gates Handicap
  • 8:50 a.m. ET — The Wolferton Stakes (Listed)
  • 9:25 a.m. ET — The Jersey Stakes (G3)
  • 10:00 a.m. ET — The Chesham Stakes (Listed)
  • 10:35 a.m. ET — The Gold Cup (G1)
  • 11:10 a.m. ET — The Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap)
  • 11:40 a.m. ET — The Sandringham Stakes (Handicap)

Friday, June 19

  • 8:15 a.m. ET — The Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes
  • 8:50 a.m. ET — The Albany Stakes (G3)
  • 9:25 a.m. ET — The Norfolk Stakes (G2) — Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series (Juvenile Turf Sprint)
  • 10:00 a.m. ET — The Hardwicke Stakes (G2)
  • 10:35 a.m. ET — The Commonwealth Cup (G1)
  • 11:10 a.m. ET — The Queen’s Vase (G2)
  • 11:40 a.m. ET — The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)

Saturday, June 20

  • 7:40 a.m. ET — The Silver Wokingham Handicap
  • 8:15 a.m. ET — The Queen Mary Stakes (G2)
  • 8:50 a.m. ET — The Coronation Stakes (G1)
  • 9:25 a.m. ET — The Coventry Stakes (G2)
  • 10:00 a.m. ET — The St James’s Palace Stakes (G1)
  • 10:35 a.m. ET — The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1) — Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series (Turf Sprint)
  • 11:10 a.m. ET — The Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap)
  • 11:40 a.m. ET — The Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions)

Watch the Royal Ascot on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app Tuesday, June 16 to Saturday, June 20. 

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”