|Friday 25th June 2021|
Royal Ascot 2021 Review
Given the complications and issues around the pandemic, not least the various mutations of the virus which are causing a lot of concern all over the world and especially in England, it was a minor miracle that we managed to get Royal Ascot this year. It was even better that there were some fans in attendance, although capacity was understandably reduced and far less than it would have been pre-pandemic. However, this did little to dampen the enthusiasm of those who were present - gambling professionals can help us understand this better, but overall, the 2021 edition of the festival offered a lot of hope for the future, especially in that the next edition will be a jam-packed one.
There were just around 12,000 daily spectators on each day of Royal Ascot 2021, but it felt as though there were three or four times more, such was the noise being made by those lucky enough to be present. This was the first time that over 10,000 people were allowed at a racecourse since March 2020, and even the weather, which remained damp and gloomy and even raised the possibility of a first abandonment of a Royal event since 1964, could not dampen spirits. Already, we can sense the expectation building for Royal Ascot 2022, which will form part of the celebrations for the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, and thus the Platinum Jubilee stakes are set to be run in front of 75,000 supporters.
There were also glimpses last week of how Royal Ascot might look and feel a fair bit further into the future. Oisin Murphy remains the man to beat at the moment, and at just 25 years of age, he could dominate this event for a decade to come.
This was a Royal meeting, of course, with the Queen only appearing on Saturday, for the first time since 2019. Her own passion for racing and breeding over seven decades has had an unimaginable impact on the sport, both in terms of its popularity and its standing in the country, and nobody could deny that even with fans in attendance, the first four days of the event did not feel the same without Her Majesty in attendance. Thankfully, all the other traditions and formalities were in place, including the strict dress codes and the post-race singing on the bandstand, which brought about a sense of normality and still made it feel like a historic occasion, all at the same time.
There is no guarantee that future monarchs will have anywhere near the same enthusiasm for this event and the sport in general - indeed, while Prince Charles is as smitten by the sport as his mother, Prince William is not said to be as enamoured. Thus, we should treasure this time while we have it, while also being sure that this event will continue to be successful and popular in the years to come, whether it receives the same level of royal patronage or not.