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Following the success of last year's extended Royal Ascot program, Ascot Racecourse has announced that Her Majesty The Queen has graciously consented to approve the extension to seven races each day for the 2021 Royal Meeting (June 15 through 19).
Last year, the Copper Horse Stakes, the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes and the Golden Gates Stakes were added to the program and the Buckingham Palace Stakes was reinstated. These races have all been retained.
Her Majesty has also approved the naming of the Kensington Palace Stakes (0-105), a new handicap to be run over the Old Mile for 4-year-old and upwards fillies and mares. Kensington Palace, set in Kensington Gardens, has been a residence for Members of the Royal Family since the 17th century.
The 'Silver' versions of the Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham Stakes have not been retained and there will not be eight races on Saturday as there were in 2020.
Sir Francis Brooke Bt., Her Majesty's Representative at Ascot, said: "A positive that we drew from Royal Ascot 2020 was that the additional races presented more opportunities to participate and that this had been widely welcomed by owners, trainers, breeders and jockeys. We are delighted to be able to make this change permanent."
The order of running in 2021 will be based on 2019. The schedule in 2020 reflected the late start of the Flat season which necessitated considerable changes, mainly related to the timing of the Newmarket and Epsom Classics.
In 2021, the races being permanently added will be run as the final races on each day. The exception will be on the Saturday, where the Golden Gates Handicap will be run as race six and the meeting will conclude, as is traditional, with the Queen Alexandra Stakes. The Queen Anne Stakes will return to its usual position, opening the Royal Meeting.
Prize money will be confirmed in advance of the early closing races in April and will be listed for now with holding values (based on 2020) in program book two.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs at Ascot, added:
"The concept of extended cards last year was well received, and we are very pleased to be able to offer additional opportunities to the horsemen community, the public, broadcasters and media going forward.
"At this time, more than ever, the increased opportunity to win prize money and to generate more levy and domestic and overseas betting income is crucial.
"Following consultation with the BHA, we decided to remove the two reserve races and bring in another high-quality handicap, as we are actually reducing the number of races run by one from last year, where eight races were staged on the Saturday. It occurred to us that the Old (round) Mile course is only used twice during Royal Ascot and another race on this track would add to the variety on offer.
"Last year's extended cards were only possible by reducing some field sizes slightly, and because no overnight stabling was allowed under Covid-19 protocols.
"In order that field sizes can go up to their maximums again and with overnight stabling extremely important, we have commissioned extra temporary stabling to be built to the required high BHA standards.
"Royal Ascot is constantly evolving and has benefitted from many recent race additions and promotions and we are excited that the week will now be bigger and better for everyone."
Tuesday, June 15
Wednesday, June 16
Thursday, June 17
Friday, June 18
Saturday, June 19
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Prize money for Royal Ascot 2021 is today announced at £6 million (US$7.13 million) over the week - a 66% increase on the £3.61m (US$4.21m) offered in 2020.
The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, which takes place in July, will be run for £875,000 (US$1.04m) (2020: £400,000 (US$475,500).
Guy Henderson, Chief Executive Officer at Ascot Racecourse, said:
"In 2020 we had hoped to offer record prize money of more than £8 million (US$9.51m) at the Royal Meeting. In the event the pandemic made that impossible and we have now spent nearly a year racing behind closed doors with trading income down 80 percent. This year's prize money of £6 million represents 75 percent of what we had originally planned for 2020.
"With restricted attendances in 2021 and pandemic insurance cover no longer available, the business will need to absorb a significant loss this year in order to deliver our wish to support the industry with the most prize money that we can prudently afford. Whilst Covid-19 has knocked back our long term financial trajectory by several years, our aim is to make the largest steps we can towards getting prize money levels back on track as soon as possible.
"Without owners we would have no racing. We are very grateful for their commitment and thank them for their support. We look forward to being able to increase prize money further as soon as it is possible for us to do so.
"We are also very grateful to our official partners, QIPCO and Longines, as well as our official suppliers, sponsors, broadcast partners and betting media partners. All of their support is deeply appreciated.
"We at Ascot much look forward to being able to welcome back our racegoers in June and delivering a special week of racing, both for those who are able to be with us on site and the many millions who will be with us in spirit through our broadcast and digital channels."
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