All looking set fair for Ascot on the ground front

Much more traditional summer ground looks assured at Royal Ascot for the duration of the week, with watering commencing on Monday.

Clerk of the course Chris Stickels had been expecting some help from raid-laden skies in the lead up to the big meeting – but far less than was forecast has materialised.

As a result the decision has put taken to apply five millimetres to the straight course on Monday morning, with five millimetres to be put on the round course during the evening.

“It became clear this morning (that it would be a dry week). There was always a possibility of this high pressure moving in, it looked like it might be possible yesterday, but the forecast has been a tricky one to read,” Stickels told Sky Sports Racing.

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“We had low pressure over us all last week and we were expecting 12-20 millimetres from last Tuesday, but we’ve only had six so that was quite a shock. We’ve only had eight millimetres in the last week and only 17 in June.

“At Ascot we’ve escaped quite a lot of the rain, but as soon as the dry forecast came through this morning it was great news.

“The going stick readings are quite high, they’ve been gradually going up through the week because we haven’t watered until today. With the five millimetres we are putting on now I imagine the readings will be pretty similar tomorrow.

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“The far side had been reading higher the previous two days and now it has dropped down, but that 0.1 or 0.2 doesn’t really mean an awful lot. It seems to be very even.

“The key thing about watering is to prevent firm ground, we’re not doing to it soften it we just don’t want firm ground. I love racing, I love horses and I don’t want to see the best horses in Europe coming back sore. People wouldn’t run if it was firm. Five millimetres is not an awful lot, it will go in evapotranspiration by tomorrow, so I think the people who are worried about it are worrying rather unnecessarily.

“The reason we’re doing it is we are racing for five days in the longest days of the year with a dry forecast. I don’t mind getting to firmish ground by the end of the week, but if I started the week with firm ground there’s no way we could keep it in a condition to maintain safe ground.”

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