Royal Ascot 2021: ten races could be run on Saturday if day four is called off
Royal Ascot's fourth day is now dependent on the track passing a 12.45pm inspection after parts of the track were left unraceable following persistent heavy rain.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels began his latest tour of the racecourse at around 10.10am and found parts of the racecourse that gave him cause for concern.
After 26mm of rain since the end of racing on Thursday the ground is now officially soft, heavy in places.
One contingency plan should Friday's Royal Ascot card be abandoned, the Racing Post understands, is to stage a ten-race card on Saturday – all live on ITV – with the Coronation Stakes, Commonwealth Cup and King Edward VII Stakes transferred from Friday.
An alternative is to run a five-race card on Friday solely on the straight course. This would include the Coronation Stakes, moved from the round course on to the straight track. However, there are parts of the straight track also giving cause for concern.
Ascot have also stated that in the event of an abandonment there is no possibility of Friday's card being moved to Sunday due to this year's royal meeting being an official government test event.
Stickels said: "We are going to have an inspection with stewards, jockeys and trainers at 12.30pm. We have found areas of the track I'm not comfortable with, one bit being down the hill and another turning into the straight.
"We are going to realign those areas and by moving the rail I would be pretty hopeful, assuming we don't get much rain.
"However, we are forecast further showers, some heavy and thundery, which doesn't help us."
'Racing on Sunday is not an option'
Outlining what he stressed are only potential contingency options, Nick Smith, Ascot's director of racing and public affairs, said: "In the event of an abandonment we are working on a ten-race card, with all the races shown by ITV Racing.
"We would move the Coronation Stakes, Commonwealth Cup and King Edward VII Stakes. What happens to the other races on today's card – and whether they are rescheduled somewhere else next week – would be a decision for the BHA.
"Another possibility being considered is to race only on the straight course today. However, a problem with that is the issues threatening racing today are not solely on the round course."
PROVISIONAL SATURDAY RUNNING ORDER
1.20pm Chesham Stakes
1.55pm Hardwicke Stakes
2.30pm Commonwealth Cup
3.05pm Coronation Stakes
3.40pm Diamond Jubilee Stakes
4.20pm Jersey Stakes
5.00pm King Edward VII Stakes
5.35pm Wokingham Stakes
6.10pm Golden Gates Stakes
6.45pm Queen Alexandra Stakes
Smith added: "Racing on Sunday is not an option for a number of reasons, principally because we would be outside the government pilot test event timeline under which this meeting is being conducted. The dynamic of the day would change and bring with it significant complexities."
The last time racing at Royal Ascot had to be abandoned was in 1964, when a waterlogged course after torrential rain meant the last two days of the meeting were washed out.
The Gold Cup and a scheduled walk-over for Trelawny in the Queen Alexandra Stakes never took place because the inflexible nature of racing administration at the time did not allow for the 12 abandoned races to be rescheduled.
Friday's card has already been hit by a large number of non-runners, with five horses taken out of the Commonwealth Cup, including leading fancy Supremacy, and Primo Bacio ruled out of the Coronation Stakes.
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