Ascot pessimistic for Saturday

Ascot's clerk of the course Chris Stickels is pessimistic about the chances of Saturday's high-profile fixture going ahead after calling an early-morning inspection.

Ascot have called an inspection on Saturday

Though the track is now completely covered with frost covers the ground remains soft, frozen in places and officials will stage an official check at 6.30am on raceday morning.

With temperatures set to drop well below freezing once more on Saturday morning, Stickels admits it will take a change in the weather forecast for him to give the meeting the green light.

He said: "We're up against it, I'm afraid.

"In my view, we wouldn't have raced today. It's not so much because of the frost overnight, but the cumulation of a few nights of frost.

"It was minus 4.5C on Wednesday morning, minus 4C on Thursday and minus 2C this morning and there is frost in the ground.

"It got up to 6C on Thursday and we wouldn't have raced. It's due to get up to 5C today, but it was still below zero when I checked at 9am.

"The forecast is for it get down to minus 3C tonight and then it's not due to get up above 3C or 4C on Saturday with an easterly wind and possible freezing fog during the morning.

"It's a shame, but unless the forecast is incorrect, I don't think we'll raceable tomorrow."

Ascot is due to stage an attractive card featuring the Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase, in which Irish challenger Un De Sceaux would bid for back-to-back victories.

Stickels confirmed discussions are under way about the possibility of rescheduling the Grade One contest for a later date.

He added: "There will be discussions ongoing, and that is something for the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) racing department would normally deal with.

"The intention is always to reschedule Grade One races."

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