Rain-swept HK horses get Ascot ray of hope
The Hong Kong contingent will be anxiously watching the dreary English skies ahead of next week's King's Stand Stakes. But they got some encouraging news from Royal Ascot officials yesterday, with a track 'slightly easier than good' predicted for the first day of the carnival.
As they oversee the final part of their horses' preparations first-hand, travelling trainers Derek Cruz and Danny Shum Chap-shing (pictured) were both lamenting dismal weather, despite a hint of sunshine yesterday, and dreading a bog track for Tuesday's 1,000m Group One race.
More than 50mm of rain fell earlier this week, 7-8mm was expected overnight, and as much as 20mm is predicted this weekend. But Ascot clerk of the course Chris Stickels was upbeat yesterday, despite describing the prevailing weather as 'horrendously wet' two days ago.
'The track takes rain really well and it looks like the meeting will start with going slightly easier than good but should dry out during the week,' he said.
Cruz's Joy And Fun has had one unplaced run on rain-affected going, while Shum's Little Bridge has a good record on wet ground. But neither horse would have experienced anything like a soft-rated UK surface.
'Of course we want to run on a good track,' said Shum. 'But the forecast doesn't look great.'
Cruz said: 'I'm hoping it clears up. If it is a wet track we'll just have to find the best patch of ground we can.'
Both horses will have one more gallop before raceday.
'One of the next three days - it depends on the weather,' Shum said. 'The weather is terrible. It's less than five degrees in the mornings, plus windy and raining, and the last few days were very, very cold.'
Shum admitted things hadn't gone exactly to plan with Little Bridge on his first overseas trip, but felt the five-year-old was coming to hand.
'Under control,' is how Shum described his horse's situation.
'He had never travelled and the weather has been very cold and windy. He just needed some time to acclimatise. He is looking good and getting better each day.'
The number of bottles of champagne consumed at Royal Ascot every year, along with 10,000 lobsters and 5,000 oysters