Fascinating Rock won last year’s Champion Stakes
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jon Lees 11:50AM 12 OCT 2016
THE Qipco Champion Stakes will be run on the traditional outer course at Ascot on Saturday after plans to stage the race on a specially designated inner course were scrapped on Wednesday.
An unusually dry spell has left the specially prepared inner strip, over which Ryan Moore and Pat Smullen galloped horses last month, too firm to race on while the outer course is good, good to soft in places.
Speaking on Wednesday, clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: “We will be moving it back to the outer course. We have had 1.5 millimetres of rain this morning and the ground is still good to firm, firm in places on the inner course. It is good, good to soft in places on the outer.
“After every effort we have put into providing an alternative it will not be used this year, but it will be there for use in future.
“We will have nice conditions this year [on the outer course]. There is rain about but not enough to make a difference [to the inner course].
“We needed to make a decision before declarations and we have firm ground out there. We would need an awful lot of rain to bring that round – 5-6mm of rain isn’t going to make an awful lot of difference.”
Initial inner course plans
Ascot announced back in July that the Champion Stakes, which has been run on soft or heavy ground three times in five years, would be staged on a newly demarcated inner course in a bid to deliver the best possible ground available
As a result the start of the race would also be moved back 80 yards to allow for a longer run into the first bend and help reduce the significance of the draw.
It also stated “in the event of firm ground, with welfare paramount, the outer Flat course would be used.”