A racegoer takes cover from the heavy rain under an umbrella during day four of Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)Ascot clerk of the course Chris Stickels is anticipating better weather on Saturday after the fourth day of Royal Ascot was nearly scuppered by rain.

After three fine days at the track, the Ascot going was reported to be good to firm at the close of play on Thursday.

However, the heavens opened overnight and it continued to rain throughout Friday, with Stickels having never seen comparable quantities during his tenure at Ascot.

Frankie Dettori was part of the delegation inspecting the track
Frankie Dettori was part of the delegation inspecting the track (David Davies/PA)

With the ground going to soft, then soft, heavy in places and ultimately heavy, a lengthy lunchtime inspection took place, with a delegation of officials, trainers and jockeys undertaking a thorough assessment of the track.

Thanks to some plentiful rail adjustments to avoid the worst of the ground, the go-ahead was eventually just over an hour before the first race.

Stickels is not expecting such drama on the final day of the Royal meeting, though.

A mud-splattered Sean Levey after he finished second in the Coronation Stakes
A mud-splattered Sean Levey after he finished second in the Coronation Stakes (David Davies/PA)

He said at the close of play: “We have had 43.5 millimetres of rain since racing yesterday, which is certainly a 24-hour record for Royal Ascot in my time as clerk of the course.

“Obviously, we ended up with heavy ground, although times weren’t as bad as perhaps I was imagining. It has still been hard work and jockeys reported very soft and heavy ground.

“The forecast is for this rain eventually to die out later this evening, although it’s unclear when because it keeps on circling round us, and for a better day tomorrow.

“It’s not predicted to be warm and sunny, but dry with the chance of an occasional shower.”

Umbrellas were the order of the day at Ascot
Umbrellas were the order of the day at Ascot (David Davies/PA)

The dramatic switch in conditions did result in a raft of non-runners though, with six absentees reducing the Commonwealth Cup to 15 runners while the Coronation Stakes, the other Group One heat on the card, was missing both the well-fancied Primo Bacio and Oonadatta.

The heavy ground has also seen some high-profile runners ruled out on Saturday, with Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Tiger Moth and Mogul sidestepping the Hardwicke Stakes, along with Andrew Balding’s Bangkok.

Emaraaty Ana has also been taken out of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on account of the ground, with a handful of non runners in the Wokingham, too.