Track Plan revised for QIPCO British Champions Day

2nd Jul 2021
British Champions Series Limited, the British Horseracing Authority and Ascot Racecourse today announce revised track plans for round course races on QIPCO British Champions Day (QBCD).
The Outer Course, used for the rest of the season, will remain the default track for QBCD. However, if there is “Heavy” in the going description on the day, racing on the round course will switch to the Inner Course. This replaces the current rule, which states that the Inner Course would only come into plan in an abandonment situation.
The Inner Course cannot be used as the default as to prepare it to be so (by summer watering) would risk compromising it for QBCD and, crucially, for the jumps season, where the risk of waterlogging would increase significantly.
Ascot’s Clerk of the Course, Chris Stickels, will give the going on the Outer Course on the morning of racing as normal. If he gives “Heavy” in the going description or indeed chooses not to do so in a marginal call, an independent panel will also assess the ground.
The panel will comprise the Chair of the Stewards, the BHA Senior Inspector of Courses and a Clerk of the Course independent of British Champions Series courses. This group will decide whether there is “Heavy” anywhere on the Outer Course, which would trigger the switch.
Recent history, the Friday of this year’s Royal Meeting being a case in point, demonstrates that the ground can change fundamentally overnight. Therefore, the ability to switch tracks on the day of QBCD needs to be available.
Equally, there may be Heavy in the going description on Friday with a dry night forecast, and so every chance must be given for the Outer Course, with all its obvious advantages, to be used.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs at Ascot Racecourse, said:
“Using the cambered Outer Course with wider bends is obviously the 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 commented:
“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.”