Conditions at Ascot are certain to be testing for the two-day fixture culminating in Saturday’s card featuring the Long Walk Hurdle and The Ladbroke.
The going is currently heavy, soft in places, but with further rain forecast, clerk of the course Chris Stickels believes it could be simply heavy before tomorrow’s meeting.
The course is currently raceable but Stickels has not ruled out the possibility of calling a precautionary inspection at some stage.
“We’ve had 28 millimetres of rain since late yesterday and the going is heavy, soft in places,” clerk of the course Chris Stickels told At The Races.
“I think actually it will probably go heavy all over by the end of today. This rain is not going to clear until late afternoon.
“At the moment we are OK and coping with what we’ve got. At the moment we are quite happy and will monitor it as the day goes on. Potentially we could get seven up to nine millimetres maybe.
“If we do get that we may have to call a precautionary inspection, but at the moment it’s taking it.
“The forecast is for the rain to die away tonight and for it to be dry for 24 hours.
“Wet weather is coming in Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning when the next rain band is due and to last all day Saturday. It does look pretty testing.”
Nicky Henderson’s rejuvenated Petit Robin heads a maximum field of 21 for The Ladbroke.
Henderson’s nine-year-old has enjoyed something of a renaissance this season after being restricted by injury.
Third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2009, Petit Robin has switched with great effect back to hurdles with solid wins at Ascot and Sandown already this term.
Henderson’s raid on this valuable prize is backed up by Cash and Go, Lyvius and First In The Queue.
Alan King has the strongly-fancied Balder Succes while Tom George has declared Racing Post Hurdle victor Olofi.
The lightly-raced Ranjaan represents the Paul Nicholls stable with David Pipe has two likely outsiders in Kazlian and Dan Breen.
Jonjo O’Neill’s It’s A Gimme and the Brian Ellison-trained Bothy feature in a fascinating list.
There is also a strong challenge from Ireland in the shape of Gordon Elliott’s Cause Of Causes, Willie Mullins’ Rattan, Eddie Harty’s Princeton Plains and Thomas Edison from Tony Martin’s stable.