Trainer Hugo Palmer: needs cut in ground for Ascription's big-race bidPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Cambridgeshire question mark over Ascription
BACKERS of Betfred Cambridgeshire joint-favourite Ascription could be kept waiting until the morning of Saturday's historic race before discovering whether they will get a run for their money, trainer Hugo Palmer said on Wednesday.
"I suspect that he will end up being declared and we'll have to make a decision on the day," said Palmer of the convincing Doncaster winner who is 7lb well in with the handicapper off his new mark of 109.
"It's impossible for me to say whether Ascription will line up or not. It just shows you how difficult these races are to win."
Ascription needs cut in the ground to be seen at his best and Palmer is scrutinising the weather forecast daily.
"It's still good ground," he added.
"It's been overcast with a very heavy dew so it's not seemingly drying out as Newmarket can. I haven't walked it because I'm in Ireland. I will be walking it before declaration tomorrow. If it is good ground with a heavy dew, it's not going to dry out a good deal more and there is rain forecast on Saturday. At what stage on Saturday, I don't know.
"I understand the reasons why we have 48-hour declarations but making a decision by 10am on Thursday about what's going to happen at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon in a country like England with such unpredictable weather is a difficult thing to do."
Betfred make Ascription their 12-1 second favourite for the first leg of the autumn double while he is 10-1 joint-favourite alongside Top Notch Tonto with both BetVictor and Ladbrokes.
Writing in his latest blog for StanJames.com, Palmer added: "Ascription is officially the second-best horse in the race and the second-best handicapped horse in the race. Top Notch Tonto is the one above him on both counts but he's in the same situation as us regarding the weather.
"He won a weak Group 3 at Haydock with the second, Hay Dude, beaten out of sight by Short Squeeze at York.
"If it went good to firm in places, we'd scratch him but at the moment it's not. It's been good ground for quite a few days and it's not drying out, it's autumn. If we could just get half an hour of rain on Saturday morning, it would be fantastic but whether or not that will happen I don't know."
Palmer added that fellow Cambridgeshire entry Short Squeeze will run at Haydock on Saturday.
"He's not going to get into the Cambridgeshire as he needs 18 to come out," the trainer added.
"Barring something happening to a whole load of horses it would be highly unlikely for him to get in and he won't run in the Silver Cambridgeshire either."