Ascot braced for testing ground – but no threat to racing

Clerk of the course Chris Stickels is confident the winter weather will spare this weekend’s Betfair Ascot Chase meeting.

Heavy rain caused abandonments for waterlogging at several courses this month, before the cold spell then wiped out the jumps fixture list last week.

Stickels does not anticipate Saturday’s card at Ascot will come under threat, however – with much of the snow thawed already on ground currently varying between soft and heavy.

“We’re still thawing – we were frozen solid yesterday lunchtime, and this morning we’re 90 per cent thawed,” he said.

“There’s a little bit of frozen ground right in front of the grandstand, where there’s normally shadow.

“We are a mixture of soft and heavy in places – otherwise we anticipate that all that frost will have come out of the ground by later this afternoon.”

A combination of melting snow and further rain will inevitably nonetheless make for very testing ground.

“It does leave it fairly wet at the moment,” added Stickels.

“We had (that) bit of snow at the beginning of last week, and there is further rain forecast this week.

“With the rain we have forecast, I wouldn’t imagine it would be a threat to us at all, but it will leave it testing.

“We’ve got about 20mm in rain (forecast) through until Friday. Saturday at this stage looks dry – albeit it is a while away, and things can change.

“That will leave us with similar ground to now – a mixture of soft and heavy. Which way (round) it’ll be will depend on the nature of the rainfall.”

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