Royal Ascot 2020 was undoubtedly a huge success given the extraordinary circumstances in which it took place, the first time in its history when the hundreds of thousands who love the event could not attend.

When the decision was taken to hold the meeting behind closed doors amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Ascot became keenly aware that the racing community it owes so much would be missing out and so decided to act.

The Nominate For A Call programme, which formed part of the wider Royal Ascot At Home project, allowed the course and its connections to speak to a community which had been isolated for many months and now faced the prospect of missing the jewel in the crown of the Flat racing season.

Fans were invited to tell their story and request a short conversation with their favourite equine personality, and they wrote in their droves.

They included couples who had proposed at the Royal meeting, friends who hadn’t missed the event in years plus those already suffering with a lack of contact due to illness or misfortune prior to the onset of the pandemic.

Stars from the world of racing stepped up and made sure Royal Ascot 2020 was not the lonely experience it could have been for some.

ITV presenters Ed Chamberlin, Brough Scott and Mick Fitzgerald all kindly called their fans while one gentleman who received a call from Sky Sports Racing presenter Alex Hammond said: ‘I thought it was a wind up to start off with, absolutely made my day. Alex is one of my favourite presenters.’

Jockeys James Doyle and Jamie Spencer all took time out of their heavy schedules to call fans while Hollie Doyle, who rode King’s Dragon to victory in The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, called one surprised fan who was nominated by her father.

‘She thought it was an old friend who happened to have the same name at first, but once she realised, she was so excited, Hollie was extremely lovely,’ he said

Veteran ITV presenter Brough Scott surprised 80-year-old racing fan Phyllada Pym after she had been nominated by her granddaughter Charlotte Charlesworth.

‘It made her day and she really enjoyed talking to him. It is a fantastic idea,’ Charlotte said.

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