SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Ascot fears Covid rules are here to stay

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Fetch your 2m toppers! Ascot fears Covid rules are here to stay… and could reduce capacity in the Royal Enclosure for the Queen’s race meeting

Already the most exclusive section of the Queen’s race meeting, the Royal Enclosure could be about to become even more rarefied.

Ascot Racecourse chief executive Guy Henderson has written to members of the invitation-only enclosure, warning them that social-distancing is expected to be still in place by the time of Royal Ascot next summer.

Even though yesterday marked the ‘first step on the road back to normality’ as British patients began receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, Royal Enclosure members, who include aristocrats, billionaires and famous personalities, were sent the letter the same day.

Already the most exclusive section of the Queen’s race meeting, the Royal Enclosure (pictured last year during the Albany Stakes) could be about to become even more rarefied

Alistair Guy and Michelle Dockery attend the Longines suite in the Royal Enclosure, during Royal Ascot in 2018

In it, Henderson made clear that, although the Government had started allowing spectators to return to sport stadiums and arenas, there was unlikely to be a return to the packed stands of previous years.

At least the rigorous Royal Ascot dress code will remain the same.

More from Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail…

While top hats are a sartorial requirement in the Royal Enclosure, they — and some of the ladies’ famously more extravagant hats — could come in handy to help social distancing. ‘We could keep a top hat’s distance from our fellow racegoers,’ says one regular.

Henderson’s letter went on: ‘Naturally we were delighted to hear the Government’s recent announcement about the planned phased return of the public to sporting events, [but] it is likely that we will be operating under some form of social-distancing regime and we expect to be restricted to a reduced capacity across the racecourse and its enclosures.’ 

He said the Queen’s representative, Sir Francis Brooke, would spell out in the new year how many members would be allowed to attend.

This year’s meeting was held behind closed doors and racegoers had hoped that things would return to normal by next June.

The Queen, who usually arrives each day of the race meeting in a carriage procession from Windsor Castle alongside other members of the Royal Family, wrote the introduction to the racecards, even though she watched from home.

The saddest of news for TV’s Sophie

BBC newsreader and animal lover Sophie Raworth, 52, has revealed her cavapoo puppy Winnie died on Friday night

BBC newsreader and animal lover Sophie Raworth has had to deliver some heart-breaking news of her own. 

‘Our gorgeous cavapoo puppy Winnie died on Friday night,’ says the mother-of-three.

‘She was hit by a car, chasing squirrels. I never knew it was possible to love a pet that much. She was a total joy and my constant companion.’

Sophie, 52, who runs in Richmond Park near the London home she shares with her husband, property developer Richard Winter, adds of their 12-month-old pet: ‘She was also my newest running buddy. She loved running. Utterly heartbroken.’

‘She was hit by a car, chasing squirrels. I never knew it was possible to love a pet that much. She was a total joy and my constant companion,’ Sophie says

The Tory man in black

He resigned over Dominic Cummings’s infamous drive to Barnard Castle to ‘test his eyesight’. 

But former minister Douglas Ross has been clocking up a heck of a lot of miles of his own since then — via a lucrative sideline.

The leader of the Scottish Tories is an assistant referee in his spare time and a new declaration in the MPs’ Register of Interests shows the role has taken him all over Europe. Since the season kicked off, he’s pocketed £4,000 on top of his salary.

He even banked £1,356 for 90 minutes’ work when he officiated at a Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Benfica in Ukraine.

Luckily, no fans were heard questioning Mr Ross’s eyesight . . .

Who wouldn’t be a Reese lookalike?

Reese Witherspoon (right), 44, shared a picture of herself with her lookalike daughter Ava (left), 21, whom she had to convince to dress like her for a new festive picture

While most of us wouldn’t mind looking like a Hollywood star, Reese Witherspoon admits her daughter needs persuading. 

The Oscar winner, 44, shared a picture of herself with Ava, 21, whom she had to convince to dress like her for a new festive picture.

The college student, whose father is Reese’s ex, actor Ryan Phillippe, already bears a striking resemblance to the Walk The Line actress. 

‘It’s true that I had to beg her to wear a matching holiday sweater,’ Reese says, posting the picture in which they sport the £112 Draper James garments and the same red lipstick. ‘But isn’t it cute?’

Slowhand, slow sale. 

Eric Clapton’s 1954 Fender hardtail Stratocaster guitar attracted not a single bid when it went up for auction. 

Perhaps the reserve price of £750,000 was too expensive. 

The bidding took place through the online platform, Gotta Have Rock And Roll, who are looking at a private sale now. 

The guitar features on Eric’s songs Early In The Morning and Tulsa Time. 

It’s Jumper Grinch Flash for a Jagger

Sir Mick Jagger, 77, and ballerina Mel Hamrick’s, 33, son Deveraux turned four just one month after Mick’s eldest, Karis, turned 50

Despite being a great-grandfather, Sir Mick Jagger, 77, yesterday celebrated his youngest of eight children, Deveraux, turning four.   

The Stone’s girlfriend, American ballerina Mel Hamrick, 33, marked the occasion by sharing a picture of their blond-haired boy in a festive £15 Grinch jumper with the words ‘Define Naughty’ written across it. 

‘Happy Birthday to our sweet, wonderful, incredible Devi! We love you so much,’ she said. 

It comes just one month after Mick’s eldest, Karis, turned 50. 

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