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Horse racing desperately needs this fan-free Royal Ascot to be a one-off | Greg Wood

The Queen and the fashions will be missing but even diehard racefans will be hoping normal service is resumed next year

It will not be long once ITV’s coverage of Royal Ascot is under way on Tuesday afternoon before someone who thinks that they are the “wit” in Twitter suggests that it’s much better without all the hats-and-frocks fluff that normally occupies the gaps between races. Five minutes, probably. Fifteen, tops. But a more sobering thought for the hardcore fans who care only about the horses and the racing is that if the need for a royal meeting behind closed doors is anything but a one-off, there may not be much of a racing industry at all this time next year.

It will look much the same to the hardcore fans if they switch on only for the races and return to their form study in between. The British Horseracing Authority and Ascot racecourse, meanwhile, deserve immense credit for getting the meeting on at all this year, never mind in its scheduled slot in the middle of June, just over a fortnight after the resumption of racing.

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