A decision to run the Qipco Champion Stakes and two other races on the inner track at Ascot for the first time on Saturday could be made as early as Wednesday.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels gave an update on contingency plans – which were drawn up in 2016 – to Sky Sports Racing, as he reflected on the rain that has hit the Berkshire track in recent weeks.
He said on Monday evening: “On the straight course we’re heavy, and on the round course we’re heavy, waterlogged in places. There is a contingency to move on to an inner Flat inner course and the going on that is good to soft, soft in places.
“I think it is highly likely we will use the inner course now, when Richard (Linley, senior British Horseracing Authority inspector of courses) and I walked it (round course) this afternoon he agreed with me on the going and the going description and the little false patches and some very wet ground round Swinley Bottom.
“We are due a slightly drier day on Tuesday, but if the situation doesn’t improve by Wednesday, if we are faced with a similar situation then and the forecast is the same, I think we will be able to make a call then.
“We can abandon those races on the outer round course with the BHA’s approval and move on to the inner course then, make that move public and the sooner we can do that the better really.
“But in order to be sure that is the right thing to do we just want to see tomorrow, as tomorrow is supposed to be dry and breezy and see if the track does improve.
“Given how wet it is I think it is probably unlikely and the most likely scenario is we will move those three round-course races on to the inner Flat course.”
Asked if the meeting could be in any danger, Stickels said: “The rainfall we are forecast now does look a little bit less than I perhaps thought at the beginning of the week.
“Today for example we haven’t had quite the volume of rain that we were expecting. We’d had five millimetres to about 5pm – I know we could get some more this evening, but we were expecting 12-15 millimetres.
“Towards the end of the week there’s a question mark as to how much we might get on Friday and Saturday, there’s always a danger when you’ve got heavy ground and an unsettled forecast as to whether the track will take it all and we’ll be watching it carefully.
“I can’t say we’re absolutely certain to all be fine given the fact we’ve got heavy ground and rain forecast – however, the straight course does drain very well.”