Royal Ascot allowed crowds of 12,000 a day for pilot event
A crowd of 12,000 will be able to attend each day of Royal Ascot next month following confirmation from the course the five-day fixture has been selected as one of the government’s pilot events for June.
The Berkshire track was previously pressing ahead with a capacity limit of 4,000 although talks were ongoing about increasing that figure, and Royal Ascot has now been identified alongside an England cricket Test match as the latest to trial the return of larger crowds.
A daily attendance of 12,000 would be the biggest to appear on a racecourse in Britain since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown the sport in March last year. Next month’s Cazoo Derby meeting at Epsom is permitted to welcome no more than 4,000 racegoers – the current cap to which racecourses are working.
The news means racegoers who rolled over tickets from 2020 will be able to attend, while an allocation of general admission tickets and royal enclosure badges will go on sale on Friday. Royal Ascot runs between June 15 and 19.
Guy Henderson, Ascot’s chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that Royal Ascot has been accepted to play its part in the next phase of the government’s Events Research Programme. We very much look forward to welcoming 12,000 racegoers each day.
“Our thanks go to our industry bodies, the British Horseracing Authority and the Racecourse Association, which led the preparation of the submission to government.”
Ascot was supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) along with Public Health England and the racecourse’s Safety Advisory Group.
Other recent sporting pilot events included the FA Cup Final, with around 20,000 spectators visiting Wembley, while Premier League clubs were permitted to allow up to 10,000 home fans to attend the final two rounds of matches.
BHA chief executive Julia Harrington welcomed Wednesday’s announcement, not just as a boost for Ascot but for the wider sport. Last year the meeting was held behind closed doors, with owners unable to attend.
Harrington said: “It’s excellent news that Ascot will be included in the Events Research Programme [ERP] as a pilot event. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how racing events are perfectly suited to safely hosting spectators in greater numbers as we progress through the government’s roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“We’re grateful to DCMS and this outcome reflects the strong and positive relationship between racing and government. Working with colleagues we will ensure that our participants remain protected to the same degree that has been achieved with racing’s bespoke coronavirus protocols since resumption in June 2020.”
David Armstrong, chief executive of the RCA, added: “I’m so pleased that Royal Ascot has been selected as part of the ERP programme.
“The RCA and the Industry Return of Spectators Group have worked closely with the ERP [and its predecessor groups] to develop pilot options across racing which demonstrate the safe nature of the racecourse environment and the strength of our operating protocols.
“The Ascot team have done an outstanding job in configuring the course for this pilot and racegoers and participants alike can look forward to an exceptional Royal Ascot experience delivered to the highest standards of safety.”
Courtesy of Racing Post