QIPCO British Champions Day will utilise Ascot’s inner course for round course races if there is heavy in the going description on the meeting’s default outer course track.
This decision, announced by British Champions Series Limited, the British Horseracing Authority and Ascot on Friday, replaces the current rule which only saw the inner course to be used if there was an abandonment situation.
Champions Day cannot use the inner course as default as preparing it with summer watering would risk comprising it for the fixture and for the jumps season with the risk of waterlogging increasing significantly.
Chris Stickels, Ascot’s Clerk of the Course, will continue to give the going on the outer course on the morning of racing as normal but if heavy is in the going description, an independent panel will assess the ground.
This panel will be comprised the Chair of Stewards, the BHA Senior Inspector of Courses and a Clerk of the Course independent of British Champions Series tracks. They will decide whether there is heavy anywhere on the outer course which would trigger the switch.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs at Ascot racecourse, said: “Using the cambered outer couse with wider bends is obviously ideal on QBCD. However, following discussions with the BHA, there is agreement that racing on heavy ground, if it can be avoided, is best for the day as a whole.
“Importantly, we are not setting out to penalise horses that prefer cut in the ground, which more often than not will be the prevailing conditions in autumn. In all likelihood, when heavy is in the going description on the outer course, the inner course will still be predominantly soft.
“Given the potential sensitivity around a switch of surfaces in a marginal situation, Chris has recommended that an independent panel verifies his assessment on the day.”
Trainer John Gosden added: “It is important that the executive are given the flexibility to switch to the Inner Course if it is heavy on the main outer course.
“The switch was made in 2019 and was a great success resulting in competitive racing. It should be noted that unlike the long summer days of June, mid-October does not present much in the way of drying conditions.”