Gosden to walk the Ascot track before Stradivarius decision


John Gosden has said he will walk the track at Ascot ahead of Stradivarius running in the Long Distance Cup on Saturday with major fears over the ground being too soft for the staying superstar.

Gosden's stable star is unbeaten in his last 10 races and was last seen having a challenger pass him back in October 2017 on British Champions Day but the five year old stayer is looking to keep his winning run going.

Stradivarius in the last two seasons has scooped the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million and was sure not be seen again until Ascot where he would round off his season in style but the horse has came out of the Lonsdale Cup at York in fine fettle and headed to Town Moor for the Doncaster Cup where again he won with ease.

The horse of a lifetime is now said to be right on track ahead of his run in the Group Two contest where he is looking to extend his unbeaten run to 11 but his trainer is very wary of how the ground will look on the day.

He is odds on favourite to take the spoils for the second season in a row and did win the race last year on soft ground, overcoming not his ideal surface to prevail in what looked one of his toughest wins for a while.

The Long Distance Cup, Champion Stakes and Fillies & Mares Stakes are almost certain to switch to the course's inner track to ensure racing takes place under the best possible conditions for the horses.

If this is to be the case and the five year old is not on the round the course for his contest it could make the difference as to if he will run or not and it would be a huge loss for Ascot with him being one of the star attractions at their highly coveted meeting.

(Credit Racing Post) Gosden said: "We'll have to wait and see what track we'll be on.

"And the most important thing I can do is see how it is and walk the track on Saturday morning, as I did last year, and make a final decision."

The outer track at the Berkshire track was waterlogged on Monday morning with the inner track not receiving any water through the summer is reading good to soft, soft in places and that is after close to 140mm of rain has fell on the track.

Clerk of the course Chris Stickles said: "The softest and wettest I've ever known them" and little had changed after he surveyed the track on Monday afternoon.

"We've had 6mm since yesterday lunchtime and the ground remains heavy on the straight course and heavy, waterlogged in places on the round course. The inner round course is a mixture of good to soft and soft."

There is no let up in the current forecast ahead of British Champions day which could see no racing whatsoever take place on the outer course with it expected racing on that track to be abandoned as soon as Wednesday or Thursday.

He added: "So far it hasn't been as wet as it could have been today. Tomorrow it's due to be a bit drier, with only an odd isolated shower, and then further rain Wednesday and showers Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"I've walked the track this afternoon with Richard Linley [BHA senior inspector of courses] and he agrees with me that we're heavy, waterlogged in places and, if we don't see any improvement by Wednesday morning and the forecast remains the same, he would be happy for us to abandon the races on the round course and move to the inner at that point, and we can do that within the BHA general instructions."