Queen to watch first crowd-free Royal Ascot having not missed a meet since 1952

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The Queen will tune in to watch Royal Ascot on TV at Windsor Castle this week as the meeting takes place behind closed doors.

For the first time in 250 years, the crisis will mean thousands of punters will have to don their posh bonnets at home to enjoy the full experience.

More than 300,000 racegoers usually flock to the Berkshire course for the week of top-class racing and indulgence.

This time, many will watch from home, with ITV Racing set to broadcast six races a day, starting today.

Since acceding to the throne in 1952, Her Majesty has never missed Ascot but Palace sources said she is “very much looking forward” to the week’s entertainment and is delighted the festival is going ahead.

Thousands of betting shops in England have reopened in time for an action-packed week of sport, which includes the long-awaited return of Premier League football.

All branches of Coral, Ladbrokes, Betfred and Paddy Power are now open, alongside the majority of William Hill shops.

Frankie Dettori, now 49, is favourite to be crowned top jockey at Royal Ascot again this year, according to Ladbrokes.

He is the odds-on favourite to land the title at 10/11, ahead of Ryan Moore at 5/4.

The bookmaker said “Frankie fever” is already sweeping the nation. Dettori has six rides to start the week and all of his mounts have been attracting support.

Nicola McGeady, of Ladbrokes, said: “Royal Ascot is the biggest week of the year on the flat-racing calendar and with sports fans thrilled to have live action back on their screens, we expect this week to be extremely busy.

“The one man we fear most is Frankie Dettori.

“Frankie fever has already set in after the popular Italian jockey had an incredible week at the meeting last year.”

ITV expects record viewing figures as the public joins the Queen in watching the action between 1.30 and 5pm from today until Saturday.

Today’s racing kicks off with the ­Buckingham Palace Handicap followed by the Queen Anne, usually one of the best races, and King’s Stand Stakes.

Royal fans can take a gamble on Queen Power, a 7/1 shot in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, at 4.10pm.

ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin is looking forward to hosting a unique event.

He said: “Royal Ascot will be different but could be extra special.

“The race schedule looks spectacular and we will try to involve owners and people watching at home in the excitement this meeting produces.”

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