Royal Ascot 2020 will feature some of the best and most exciting Flat racing in the world with a programme that once again features eight Group 1 races.
The shape of the programme has been amended this year to ensure horses are presented with the most appropriate opportunities in line with the restructured fixture list put in place following the resumption of racing on 1st June.
As well as a restructured Order of Running there are six additional races, to provide further opportunities to owners and trainers with horses needing to run. All handicaps, these races are a combination of consolation races from big field handicaps, races that used to feature on the programme and newly framed contests.
The opening day will include the meeting’s key middle distance races for three-year-olds with the Ribblesdale Stakes for fillies and the King Edward VII Stakes for colts. These now act as key trials for the Epsom Classic races and we can expect to see some exciting young horses that will go on to compete in the Oaks and Derby.
Other major changes see the two-year-old races pushed back later in the week, allowing horses to have more time from their debut runs to the Royal Ascot pattern races.
The closing day of Royal Ascot will be one of the highest-quality days racing held anywhere in the world this year. Three Group 1 races headline a stunning a card that also includes the premier two-year-old races of the meeting – the Coventry and Queen Mary Stakes. The elite three-year-old milers will do battle in the St James’s Palace Stakes for colts and Coronation Stakes for fillies while the Diamond Jubilee Stakes sees the best sprinters take each other on.
Stories to look out for through the week include champion trainer John Gosden looking to reach 50 winners at the Royal Meeting. He is just one short of that total and will have plenty of live chances. Frankie Dettori needs six winners to go level with Pat Eddery on 73 Royal Ascot winners while Ryan Moore is just two short of 60. Younger jockeys looking to make a name for themselves in search of a first Royal Ascot victory include Cieren Fallon and Hollie Doyle who have both made flying starts to the season.
In terms of horses, speedball Battaash will be hoping it’s third time lucky in the King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day but could have his work cut out again with Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers a Group 1 winner last year and the rapidly improving Sceptical due to make the trip over from Ireland.
Thursday will see Stradivarius attempt to become just the third triple-winner of the Gold Cup, following in the footsteps of the mighty Yeats and Sagaro. His rematch with Kew Gardens, who got the better of him on QIPCO British Champions Day last year, will be one of the most eagerly awaited races of the week.
On Friday, the Commonwealth Cup is shaping up once again to be the race of the week and the field could have a distinctly international feel to it. Kimari from America was just touched off in the Queen Mary last year and looks to make amends while Wooded from France made a powerful seasonal appearance last month and the home challenge is headed by the unbeaten Pierre Lapin.