Aside from the thoroughbreds that compete at annual race meets, race tracks also feature top-class chefs including Michelin star awardees as side attractions. To heighten the social appeal of traditional annual race meets, venues usually enhance their environment with fine-dining restaurants hosted by world famous chefs.
However, it was quite unfortunate that the 2020 spring races across the globe had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK’s Royal Ascot for one, is a gala equestrian event where as many as 300,000 attendees make it a point to mark the event date as an important social occasion. Much to the disappointment of fans, the pandemic left the entire world with no choice but to cease all social gatherings, stay indoors and avoid crowds.
Michelin-Starred Chefs at Annual Royal Race Meetings
Many had hoped to sample the feast that Michelin-starred chefs were set to offer at the Royal Ascot, as flexible fine dining options that suit their taste and budgets, The chef sideshow lined up for the 2020 Royal Meeting top billed Raymond Blanc, the 5-year resident chef of the Panoramic Restaurant located at the 6th floor of the Royal Enclosure.
Simon Rogan, was also scheduled to return for a third year along with his pop-up restaurant in the Royal Enclosure Gardens. Another returnee would have been Ollie Dabbous, a former protege of Chef Blanc who made his Royal Ascot debut in 2019, who planned to be back in the Royal Enclosure with “Holyroodhouse.”
The “2020 Royal Ascot at Home” Experience
Although many Royal Ascot fans bemoaned the cancellation of the much awaited 2020 spring social event, organizers launched the “Royal Ascot at Home” at the Ascot Racecourse website. Horse race fans rejoiced that some of the racing competitions were allowed to run behind closed doors, and broadcasted live via TV coverage.
To give fans the feel of what could have been at day at the Royal Ascot Meeting, virtual race attendees were furnished with on-the-go food and beverage choices to order from bars and restaurants at the Queen Anne Enclosure. An alternative option was to prepare their own culinary treats by following step-by-step recipes, including instructions for mixing cocktail drinks, provided by the website.
To further boost the morale of those who watched at home, Royal Ascot organizers urged home viewers to don the fashionable outfits they had planned to wear in the 2020 race meet and were encouraged to participate in a fashion contest. All they had to was post pictures in their social media accounts using the hashtag #StyledWithThanks. The contest winner won a Longines watch, while the runner ups got tickets for the 2021 Royal Ascot and voucher for a complimentary meal prepared by a featured chef in next year’s gathering.
Out of more than 1,000 participants, a panel of judges led by well-known British milliner Stephen Jones OBE, chose the “Most Elegant,” “Most Uplifting” and “Most Original” outfits.
Aside from the social aspects, the betting public also had their treat as the closed door Royal Meet featured not only the series of major races, but also the Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham Handicap. At a time when many major sports events have to stay idle while the battle against the novel coronavirus is ongoing, many sports bettors are glad that horse races are allowed to run even without race track spectators.
In the meantime, horse racing news website Past the Wire ( https://pastthewire.com/category/horse-racing-news/ ) continues to provide the latest reports not only on horse race entries and race results but also the latest in jockey news, trainer news, horse owner news, as well as thoroughbred breeding information and many more.