No top hats or dresses at Royal Ascot as flat racing showpiece is held without spectators for first time in its history
- Royal Ascot gets underway on Tuesday with it going ahead behind closed doors
- There are no spectators present due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
- For the first time in history, the grandstands will be empty at Royal Ascot
- An expanded programme means there will be a total of 36 races over five days
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
There will be a hugely eerie atmosphere all week around Royal Ascot as the iconic racing event gets ready to go ahead behind closed doors.
For the first time in the event’s long-running history, the grandstands will be empty due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has plagued the sporting calendar of late.
And on Tuesday morning ahead of Royal Ascot’s first race of 2020, there was a ghost-like feel as fans adhered to the Government’s lockdown rules.
There is an eerie feel around Royal Ascot ahead of its eagerly-anticipated start on Tuesday
Jockey Frankie Dettori arrives for day one of Royal Ascot 2020 wearing a face mask
A general view inside the grounds shows the ghost-like surroundings at Royal Ascot
The first race of the five-day calendar is the Buckingham Palace Stakes – which begins at 1:15
No spectators will be flocking through the gates over the action-packed five days
The grandstands and the surrounding streets are completely deserted as sports fans continue to get used to the new norm amid the ongoing crisis.
On Tuesday, there will be no Queen present or any of the glitz and glamour associated with Royal Ascot – one of Britain’s most famous sporting events in the calendar.
An expanded programme will see six additional races for a total of 36 contests over five days – with jockeys wearing face masks.
The streets around the iconic venue are deserted ahead of Tuesday’s first race meeting
Royal Ascot is going ahead behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
A couple reflect on what could have been as Royal Ascot gets ready to start on Tuesday
A woman takes a photo of the deserted surroundings at Royal Ascot ahead of the action
There will be no top hats or glam dresses this year – with the event at Ascot Racecourse being restricted to just the hundreds.
And for those in attendance, they will undergo strict temperature checks to ensure the event runs as safely as possible.
‘The attention of the world is on the biggest sporting event globally to take place since sport resumed,’ said Ascot director of racing Nick Smith.
‘That is a heavy responsibility for us but it is a statement that racing is back. We must put on the best show we can.’
The first race – the Buckingham Palace Stakes – will begin at 1:15pm on Tuesday, and ahead of the action, the Queen penned her traditional message in the Ascot race cards.
Pictures show a deserted car park at Ascot Racecourse ahead of the first meeting
Ticket offices will not be open during the five-day event, which finishes on June 20
The Queen wrote: ‘I send my best wishes to the thousands of racing professionals and enthusiasts who will join me in celebrating this year’s Royal Ascot.
‘In these challenging times, we are once again delighted to welcome the best horses and jockeys from across the world and pay tribute to those who have helped make this race meeting possible.
‘This year Ascot will feel different for many, as it is so often a chance for friends, families and colleagues to gather together and enjoy a shared passion.
‘I am sure however, that with the valiant efforts of the organisers, owners, trainers and stable staff, it will remain one of Britain’s finest sporting occasions and a highlight of the racing calendar.’