With a further 42mm of rain falling at Ascot since Sunday morning the going is now officially heavy and due to an unsettled weather forecast for the remainder of the week, conditions look certain to be testing for British Champions Day on Saturday. But according to the track’s head of public relations, Nick Smith, no problems are anticipated with regard to the meeting going ahead as planned.
Speaking on Tuesday, morning Smith defended the timing of Champions Day which has been the subject of plenty of criticism since it’s inauguration in 2011, saying; “There are no concerns about the raceday going ahead at all. There is rain forecast but not deluges and, whilst we expect it to be run of soft ground, there is no concern based on the forecast as it stands that there will be no racing on Saturday.
“It’s going to be soft ground, heavy possibly but you live in the real world. It would be silly to say losing Australia isn’t disappointing but you have to bear in mind that Australia and Kingman both came out due to injury.
“These are not ground-related issues. Some years it’s going to be run on softer ground and some years it’s going to be run on quicker ground. It’s exactly the same for Arc weekend.”
With no contingency plan in place should the meeting be lost, Smith responded to criticism of Champions Day’s place in the Flat calander, saying: “What I think is important is to keep in mind that it was never a question of when this meeting could be run.
“Nobody chose this slot; it’s the incumbent slot of the Champion Stakes at Newmarket and that was the slot we had to use to get permission from the European Pattern Committee to run this raceday. There was no option or discussion or anything that could be done about the time of year and we’re very, very happy with the way it’s gone.”
With testing conditions virtually guaranteed for the Berkshire venue ante-post interest on the six-race card has centred around those horses with proven soft ground form including our 20/1 tip for the Qipco Sprint Stakes, Jack Dexter, who has been the subject of sustained support and is now a best price 10/1 with Bet365 and Paddy Power.