Ascot clerk warns of threat to Grade 1 meeting

Chris Stickels "fairly pessimistic" about prospects for Saturday's card

PICTURE: Getty Images Ascot clerk warns of threat to Grade 1 meeting
By lee mottershead 10:00AM 20 JAN 2017

ASCOT'S Clarence House Chase fixture on Saturday looks long odds-on to be cancelled with frost having already penetrated covers put down on the track earlier this week.

Clerk of the course Chris Stickels has called an unusually early inspection at 6.30am in the expectation of anticipated overnight sub-zero temperatures making the prospect of racing taking place impossible.

The BHA has already been informed of the likely need to reschedule a Grade 1 race due to feature Un De Sceaux and Ar Mad.

Stickels, who has been left frustrated by a week that has been colder than predicted, said on Friday morning: "If the forecast is correct it looks like it will be a fairly straightforward decision.

"We are not raceable at the moment and we wouldn't have been raceable on Thursday. The forecast indicates temperatures of -3C overnight and it won't rise much above 3C or 4C tomorrow. As such, we're fairly pessimistic.

"We put covers on the landings, take-offs and up some of the home straight on Tuesday but there is now frost under those covers. We're disappointed but there's not a lot we can do."

The Clarence House, when abandoned, has previously been staged at Cheltenham's meeting next Saturday, but that is this year due to contain eight races following the addition of the cross-country chase postponed in November.

Stickels added: "I've spoken to the BHA's racing department and they will be looking at options to reschedule the race. If we abandon the plan will be to run somewhere soon."

No problems on Friday

There was better news for racing on Friday after Chepstow was given the green light following a cold morning at the south Wales venue.

With temperatures dipping down to as low as -3c early on Friday, clerk of the course Keith Ottesen opted to take a look at conditions at 9am.

By that time though, the temperature had risen to the positive side of freezing and the six-race card was given the go ahead.

The remaining meetings on Friday, on the all-weather at Lingfield, Wolverhampton and Dundalk, as well as a jumps meeting at Musselburgh, will go ahead as planned too.

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