It is still lashing down here at Ascot, with half an hour to go before the inspection which will decide whether racing can go ahead on day four of the Royal meeting. Meanwhile, in a lively market on Betfair, with just over £60,000 matched thus far, the odds on racing being abandoned are down to 2-5, while a thumbs-up from the officials is 7-4 against and drifting.
There are seemingly a few options open to the track, with the first and most likely seeming to be that racing will be abandoned for today.
An alternative would be to run a five-race card on the straight mile, which was completely relaid when the grandstand was rebuilt 15 years ago and drains rather better than the round course. That could accommodate all but the King Edward VII Stakes and the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, both of which are run over a mile-and-a-half.
And if there is no way to race today, it might be possible to run a 10-race card on Saturday, which would include the Commonwealth Cup, Coronation Stakes and King Edward VII Stakes from today’s card. With rain forecast to continue at least sporadically until the early hours of the morning, however, there is an obvious possibility that the track will remain unraceable on Saturday.
Inspection set for 12.45pm
Official at Ascot will inspect the course at 12.45 to decide whether the fourth day of the Royal meeting can proceed as planned, after “torrential” rain from Thursday evening changed the going from good-to-firm to soft by 7am this morning.
“Following 26mm of rain since racing yesterday and with a few false patches of ground which means the ability to race may be marginal,” the course said in a statement on Twitter, “an inspection has been called for 12.45. We are also looking at options to re-align the rail to avoid these areas.”
An uncertain weather forecast for the next few hours is also causing concern, with showers, some of which could be heavy, possible throughout the afternoon.
The change in the ground has already had an impact on the fields for Friday’s two Group One contests, with Clive Cox deciding to scratch Supremacy and Diligent Harry from the Commonwealth Cup (3.40) while Primo Bacio is a non-runner in the Coronation Stakes at 4.20.
Ascot could hold an inspection of the course before the start of racing on Friday, the fourth day of the Royal meeting, after more than 20mm of rain from Thursday evening changed the going to soft, with more rain forecast to fall throughout the day.
The ground was good-to-firm for the first two days of the meeting, while Chris Stickels, the clerk of the course, applied around 4mm of water to the entire track on Tuesday evening to maintain it at that description. After 2.4mm of rain on Wednesday evening, the turf was still good-to-firm for the Gold Cup card, but the drenching since the last race on Thursday has seen a rapid deterioration.
“We’re just about to go and walk it now with the stewards, which is a standard course of action anyway at this time of day,” Stickels told ITV Racing just before 10am. “But obviously we’ll just monitor the conditions. As we speak, I understand that water is starting to puddle out there in the odd place … so we just need to go and have a look at that. It’s been torrential, really.
“I had another quick look at 7.30am and by then we’d had 20mm since yesterday. I haven’t been to the rain gauge since but it’s been pretty steady since then and conditions will continue to deteriorate. I should think it’s quite likely now [that there will be an inspection]. Unless it stops and improves by the time we get out there and look at it, I think we probably will need to have an inspection.”