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Ascot Champions Day card switched to hurdles track with more rain forecast

Stradivarius won last year's Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day under Frankie Dettori
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With further rain expected and Ascot's round course already waterlogged, clerk of the course Chris Stickels has moved the three affected races on Saturday's Qipco British Champions Day card to the inner hurdles track.

The prospect of using the round course this weekend had appeared unlikely with areas of standing water having little chance of drying out due to the forecast. Rain is forecast every day up to, and including, Saturday with the straight course already riding heavy.

"There will always remain concerns when ground is heavy and rain is forecast," Stickels said. "It's draining through at the moment and is fine but one has to keep a watchful eye.

"The forecast does vary. We had two and a half millimetres today by 8.30am and we're probably only going to see perhaps another millimetre today. Thursday two to three millimetres are forecast, then seven to eight on Friday and four to five on Saturday which is quite a bit of rain."

The switch of tracks was confirmed on Wednesday morning, meaning the Fillies & Mares race, Long Distance Cup and Champion Stakes will be run on the inner course where the ground is much better, with an official description of good to soft, soft in places.

Qipco Champions Day has become an afternoon of racing to rival any other anywhere in the world

Stickels said: "In the interests of all involved we wanted some clarity on the matter. There wasn't sufficient improvement in the round course to be confident and the forecast is unsettled.

"We thought it was the sensible move, having discussed it with the racecourse inspectorate and now the information is out there and we can move on."

The inner course is in good shape having been unused for several months, and Stickels added: "The soft ground on the inner course is around Swinley Bottom, the same place as would be softest on the round course.

"At the moment it's a mixture of good to soft and soft and it's taking the rain very well. We're delighted with it, it hasn't been raced on since March and doesn't have the same kind of wear. If it wasn't raining now we'd be needing to water it in advance of jumping."

Since it was relaid in 2006 the straight mile was relaid on top of a sandier base and layers of gravel drains which helps the surface drain quickly. 

There has also been a change to Saturday's running order, with the Long Distance Cup now the second race on the card and the Fillies & Mares the third race.

The two races also have revised distances. The Long Distance Cup will be run over 1m7f 127yds, a decrease of 82yds, and the Fillies & Mares will be over 1m3f 133yds, a decrease of 78yds.

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We're delighted with it, it hasn't been raced on since March and doesn't have the same kind of wear

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