Weather warning in place as strong winds forecast for Ascot
Ascot is expected to feel the full force of Storm Brian on Saturday after a yellow weather warning for wind was issued by the Met Office.
Forecasts suggest the wind will be at its strongest during racing, with clerk of the course Chris Stickels predicting it will come from the south-west, meaning runners will be presented with a challenging headwind in the home straight.
"While the wind will be constant at 25mph, forecasts are suggesting gusts around 40mph," he said.
"The constant wind speed isn't so much of an issue for horses, but the strength of the gusts has the potential to maybe unbalance them slightly.
"It will come from the south, south-west so the last furlong will be sheltered from the grandstand. While it's a shame to have strong winds on such a big day, we'll have to see what sort of effect it will have.
"As the runners turn in on the round course it will be a headwind and I guess that might make it bit of difference."
In light of the conditions, the Racing Post's Topspeed expert Dave Edwards expects jockeys to adopt a cautious approach.
"Obviously a headwind will slow them down and a tailwind will speed them up, but by how much is anyone's guess at this stage," he said on Friday.
"My experience suggests that if the jockeys perceive the ground to be testing, even though it may not be that bad, they will go slower anyway. If it's very windy they'll probably slow it down as well.
"Sometimes the wind gusts in one race and not another, which is another complication."
The ground was changed to soft all over on Friday morning after approximately 6mm of rain fell during Thursday night. More rain is forecast but Stickels is not expecting to make further alterations.
Speaking on Friday night, he said: "It has been bright and breezy today and while we're forecast showers around midnight and then occasional blustery showers through tomorrow, I'd expect the ground to remain soft."
Aidan O'Brien has 12 intended runners at Ascot and after discussions about when the horses would travel, it was decided to send them on Saturday morning.
Officials at Fairyhouse, meanehile will check conditions and the progress of Storm Brian at 8am and provide an update on the prospects of their afternoon Flat meeting taking place.
Storming home: a yankee to blow bookies away!
Librisa Breeze (2.00 Ascot)
Queen Of The Wind (2.10 Ffos Las)
Roaring Forties (4.40 Catterick)
Beau Mistral (6.15 Wolverhampton)
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