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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.”

Soft ground in store for Ascot – but hurdles track not expected to be needed

Ascot’s clerk of the course Chris Stickels expects soft ground for Qipco British Champions Day on Saturday.

The last meeting at the track just over a week ago had to be called off due to waterlogging – but Stickels does not anticipate the meeting taking place on the inner (hurdles) track, which was needed for the races on the round course last year.

While rain is forecast for Monday evening into Tuesday, not much else of significance is expected before the meeting gets under way.

“Currently we’re soft, it’s been drying out since Saturday and we’ve only had a little bit of rain in the last week,” said Stickels.

“But what we have had is 112 millimetres in October already. We had a huge amount of rain the weekend before last which forced us to abandon the Saturday of the two-day meeting.

“We’re anticipating rain and showers through Monday into Tuesday with six to eight millimetres forecast.

“After that is is meant to remain generally dry, there may be the odd shower about but nothing serious.

“We might go back to heavy in places after this rain today and tonight and after that I anticipate soft ground for Champions Day.

“We have the option of using the inside track should the outer track be unraceable, but I don’t think it’s going to get to that if this forecast is accurate.”