Ascot could be forced to water course after change in forecast

Ascot clerk of the course Chris Stickels is to walk the track with John Gosden later today to assess the effect of some forecast heavy showers for this afternoon, but he expects to have to turn the taps on before the start of the royal meeting on Tuesday.

Earlier in the week, up to 19mm was forecast to fall before the weekend was out, but that number has receded as the week has gone on, with less than 5mm of rain since Wednesday.

Like the rest of southern England, Ascot has experienced breezy days with sunny spells and sharp showers over the past week, but the threat of showers after Saturday now looks to have diminished.

Stickels said on Saturday morning: “There are showers due late today, but we’ve had a lot less rain up until now than some people were predicting – I think not as much as 5mm since Wednesday. We had 1.4mm yesterday and a light shower this morning.

"This afternoon we are expecting 3mm to possibly 6mm, and I can see a black cloud heading our way now. We’ve not watered the track yet. We would ideally want a mixture of good to firm and good for Tuesday, but at this stage it doesn’t look as if we’ll get to that naturally.

"We may have to water, but a decision about that will be taken on Sunday when we know the threat of rain for the next two days."

Beyond that, he added: "The possibility of showers through Sunday, Monday and Tuesday has reduced and Wednesday now looks largely dry, as do Thursday and Friday. But showers are forecast for Saturday, which could potentially be the wettest day of the week.”