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Ascot likely to stick to usual track for Champions Day but keeps weather eye

first_imgAscot officials are expected to decide on Thursday morning that its usual Flat-racing track should be used for Champions Day on Saturday, while acknowledging a distinct possibility that the going there could end up soft by race day. The alternative would be to use the “inner” track, which is used normally as the jumps track, but that seems a remote possibility at this stage, officials having committed to making a decision by about 9am on Thursday, before trainers have to declare their final entries.“I’ve just walked the outer course and it’s good, good-to-soft in places,” Chris Stickels, Ascot’s clerk of the course, said on Wednesday evening. “We gave ourselves the option of using the inner track but that’s really only supposed to be used if the outer is heavy or looks like being heavy.” Horse racing Read more The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Ascot Share on Facebook Since you’re here… Share on LinkedIn … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian Share on Pinterest Read more Horse racing tips Share on Twitter Talking Horses: why a jockey’s words can’t always be taken at face value Topics Share via Email With little to no rain forecast for tonight, the situation is unlikely to have changed by Thursday morning, leaving Stickels and his team with a straightforward decision to stick with the outer. The going on the inner track is firm, which would be unattractive to a lot of those intending to take part on Saturday.But there is plenty of rain in the forecast before the races are due to start and Stickels acknowledges there is “every chance” of soft going by Saturday afternoon. What concerns him more is the volatility of the forecast, with a significant storm due to hit the country on Saturday, perhaps bringing with it rather more rain than currently anticipated. Stickels gives the impression of a man who would quite like to postpone his choice of tracks for a day or two, if he were allowed.In any case, the Champions Day weather will provide a test for the hardihood of racegoers, with winds of 20mph to 30mph expected, perhaps gusting up to 50mph. Nick Smith, Ascot’s communications director, said all temporary structures on the site had been tested for winds up to 60mph and there was “no cause for enormous concern at this stage”.Fans of jump racing get an early thrill on Thursday from the Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown, which will feature the Gold Cup runner-up, Minella Rocco, taking on four Grade One winners.“He’s in grand form and obviously I expect him to win the Gold Cup this season,” his trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, joked. “You’ve got to remember, he’s only won one race over fences, so he’s needing all the experience he can get. news Reuse this content “This is a nice starting point for him and there aren’t many opportunities before Christmas for a horse like him, apart from the very good races.”When asked about future plans for the horse, O’Neill said: “We’ll see how we get on, he’s still on a bit of a learning curve. There’s Haydock [for the Betfair Chase] but you need to be spot on for them races. He’s a similar sort of horse to More Of That and I’d like to keep them apart if I can.”More Of That is being aimed at Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase, with Down Royal’s Champion Chase as an alternative. “He ran flat last year, he never really turned up, for whatever reason,” O’Neill said. “Obviously, he’s had his problems but he’s come back in really good shape. At the moment, we’re all full of hope.”Punchestown was also racing on Wednesday, when Petit Mouchoir made an impressive start to his career as a steeplechaser, landing a beginners’ chase by an easy seven lengths. Henry de Bromhead’s grey is now favourite for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, at a top price of 10-1. “We can breathe a sigh of relief,” De Bromhead said. “He’d been schooling really well. Until you see it on the track, you’re always a bit anxious, but he looked great there.”The vastly experienced jockey Davy Russell admitted to pre-race nerves, hopes being so high that things would go well on the horse’s debut over the bigger obstacles. “I wouldn’t be nervous riding him in a big race,” Russell said, “but today was very important. He didn’t have to win today, but to do things right for the future.”Thursday’s tips, by Chris CookBrighton 2.00 Sing Out Loud 2.30 Wilson 3.05 Bloodsweatandtears (nap) 3.35 Pick A Little 4.05 About Glory 4.40 Spinnaka 5.10 Coral Caye 5.40 Bella AlissaCarlisle 2.10 Vercingetorix 2.45 Apollo Creed 3.15 I Just Know 3.45 Colt Lightning 4.20 Yeats Baby 4.50 Report To Base 5.25 HeclaUttoxeter2.20 Knight Destroyer 2.55 Counter Shy 3.25 Cloudy Too (nb) 3.55 Another Venture 4.30 Irish Octave 5.00 Indian ReelNewcastle 5.15 Mr Davies 5.45 Pioneertown 6.15 Royal Residence 6.45 Crown Of Cortez 7.15 W G Grace 7.45 Ifubelieveindreams 8.15 American Hustle 8.45 Canford Baylast_img read more