SOFT Falling Rain (photo) and Igugu will take part on Britain’s richest race day at Ascot, Saturday. More rain is expected in London, but Mike de Kock says he is prepared to take his chances with Soft Falling Rain in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth ll Stakes 1600m and Igugu in the Grade 1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes over 2400m.
The ground was officially soft at Ascot on Wednesday evening, the surface losing its good to soft patches after 6mm of rain, reports JACK MILNER of Racing Express.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels reported on Wednesday: “We had 6mm today and I’m changing the going to soft. It’s more likely to be dry tomorrow (Thursday). There are more likely to be showers Friday and Saturday.”
Mike had said earlier that if the ground was too wet Soft Falling Rain might not take his place in the race. “It is going to be soft. There is rain due on Friday night and the going is soft there right now,” he said from the UK yesterday. “But we’ll probably run. He hasn’t raced in wet conditions as yet so we don’t know what he will do.
“All I know is that it’s going to be tough. The horses are pretty well and I’m happy with the way things have gone but there is proper European Grade 1 form in the race, so it won’t be easy.”
Soft Falling Rain had been priced up a narrow favourite but has subsequently drifted in the betting. French visitor Maxios, conqueror of Olympic Glory by five lengths in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin last month, was available at 6-1 on Wednesday morning, but Hills cut him to 4-1 from that top price, while lengthening Soft Falling Rain half a point to 9-2.
Only Dawn Approach is now in front of Maxios in Hills’ market, at 2-1 and Jonathan Pease, trainer of Maxios, confirmed the Niarchos-owned colt would head to Ascot.
Igugu will alsobe taking on some strong rivals in the Fillies & Mares Stakes .
“Igugu is doing well right now. She seems to be over all of her problems. She won the SA Oaks over 2450m so the distance should not be a problem. But once again, the opposition is tough,” said Mike.
One runner who might be out of the race is 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern. Trainer Richard Hannon said he would pull her out if the going is too soft and jockey Richard Hughes has said it would be the right move. “I’d be inclined to give it a miss.
“Sky Lantern has the option of either the Champion Stakes or the QEII, and the ground definitely dries out quicker up the straight, so the mile (1600m) might be the preferred option should she get the green light, especially as 12 furlongs (2400m) in heavy ground could be a real test of stamina.”
Paul Hanagan will be riding Soft Falling Rain while Pat Cosgrave is aboard Igugu.
“If they’re in the money it will be huge because they are taking on the best of the best,” concluded Mike.