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.