Stickels rates track switch ‘pretty likely’ for Champions Day

Ascot clerk of the course Chris Stickels feels it is “pretty likely” the races scheduled to be run on the round course at Ascot on Champions Day will take place on the inner track.

With Storm Babet set to batter the country in the coming days, the going is expected to turn testing.

Contingency plans are in place that allow officials to move the Long Distance Cup, Filly & Mares Stakes and the Champion Stakes to the inner hurdles track when situations like this arise, with switch last made in 2019.

“I walked it this afternoon with John Gosden at about 3pm when it had only just started raining and the current description is good to soft on the straight track and soft in places on the round course. We are describing the inner track as good, good to firm in places,” Stickels told Racing TV.

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“If we have heavy ground on any part of the round course, we can move the round course races to the inner track and we have to decide that before 8am on Saturday.

“Looking at the forecast for Friday, I would say that is quite likely (for the races to move). I think the rain we will get overnight will turn us back to soft on the round course and maybe even if we get the top end, some heavy places on the round course.

“Thursday we might only get three to four millimetres, it is mainly a windy day but the forecast for Friday is a similar amount of rain as that we are due tonight again, so if we are not heavy in places by then, it would be highly likely to be by Friday.

“I think it would be pretty likely that we will end up on that inner track. If we can make a decision on that before 8am on Saturday that would be favourable, we’d like to make it Friday but we don’t want to be hasty and suggest that now before we have much rain.

“There is no ability to run the two races scheduled to be run over a mile and the sprint on the round course. There are no start positions and it isn’t wide enough to accommodate the scheduled 20 runners.

“It’s a shame we are a week later in the calendar this year and even today, John Gosden said if we were racing today the ground would have been perfect.”

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