‘Authentic little Royal Ascot’ provided release from hibernation

Ascot chief executive Guy Henderson has voiced his gratitude to all who played their part in ensuring this year’s Royal meeting allowed thousands of racegoers to “come out of hibernation”.

Royal Ascot was chosen as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme and was therefore permitted to host a crowd of up to 12,000 spectators per day.

The track allocated 50,000 tickets across five days, with Saturday inevitably the busiest day as nearly 11,000 attended – including the Queen.

Henderson described the week as “absolutely wonderful” but has also pointed out the next hugely important step is that all who attended should conduct their coronavirus tests which will assist in critical Government data to inform future easing of pandemic restrictions.

“First of all, it was a real boost to be accepted as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme,” he said.

“Thank you to everybody for cooperating with all the procedures. The most important thing after the event is for people to do their five-day PCR tests, because the data from that will be really helpful to the Government in future plans.

“The truth of the matter is that the events industry across all sectors needs people to be sustainable.

“Therefore it was an easy decision to say ‘of course, no matter how difficult it is, we will try’ – because the Government is trying to collect the appropriate data to help the country open up, and to give themselves and all of us the confidence that it can be done safely.”

The return of crowds at major events is, of course, high on the agenda for millions, and Henderson added: “We have learnt from Covid-19 that human beings are basically social creatures, and we need these events to help us open up.

“This week has felt like coming out of hibernation for most of us – and it has been absolutely wonderful.

“We aimed to deliver what I would call an ‘authentic little Royal Ascot’, and I hope everybody enjoyed it.”

The Queen did not attend each day of the meeting as she previously has. But the Royal Family were still represented throughout the week, and the Royal colours collected two placings courtesy of Reach For The Moon and King’s Lynn on Saturday.

Henderson said: “It has been wonderful for us that so many senior members of the Royal Family and their guests have been with us this week, including Her Majesty The Queen, who had a second and a third on the track.

“There has been fantastic racing, some in perfect conditions and some in adverse conditions.

“There have been exciting finishes, which is what we like, and both the leading jockey and trainer awards went down to the wire.

“Congratulations to Oisin Murphy and John and Thady Gosden as well as Godolphin, who were the leading owners.”

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