Ascot has announced this year’s Royal meeting will be extended to feature seven-race cards on each day of the fixture, which runs from June 15-19.
Extra races were added to the meeting last year as a result of the late start of the Flat season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Copper Horse Stakes, Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes and Golden Gates Stakes added alongside the reinstated Buckingham Palace Stakes.
Those races will all be retained this year while a new handicap to be run over the Old Mile for four-year-olds and upwards fillies and mares, named the Kensington Palace Stakes, will also be added.
The ‘Silver’ versions of the Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham Stakes run last year will not be 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 rather than last year’s revised schedule, with the races being permanently added run as the final event on each day apart from the Saturday when 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 as the opening event of the Royal meeting this year and prize money will be confirmed in advance of the early closing races in April.
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 benefited from many recent race additions and promotions and we are excited that the week will now be bigger and better for everyone.”