Minutes before the third race was due to start, Alan Fyles, a groundsman, found the hole as he was treading down divots caused by runners in the first two races.
'All you could see was the hoof-print, but when Alan was treading a piece of earth down his foot went in,' Philip Arkwright, clerk of the course, said.
Richard Hills and other jockeys saw Fyles probing the hole as they trotted past on the way to the start. 'Thank God for the groundstaff because we wouldn't have seen it,' Hills said later.
'He was lying down with his arm up to the shoulder in the ground. It was about 18 inches deep, but like a rabbit burrow because it went underneath.'
The subsidence, on the line of a natural fault, is believed to have been caused by recent heavy rain. There are two faults on the course, both of which are shown on Ordnance Survey maps. 'I can't establish the full extent of the repairs needed until a digger is brought in,' Arkwright said. 'That will be done this week.'
Ascot's hopes of staging its final Flat fixtures of 1993 are remote after yet more rain fell at the track yesterday. A stewards' inspection will take place at 8.30 this morning but the two-day meeting, which was due to feature the October Stakes tomorrow and the the Princess Royal Stakes and Cornwallis Stakes on Saturday, looks unlikely to go ahead.
Michael Roberts rode his 100th winner of the season on Witness Box at York yesterday. He completed a double on Cool Jazz in the following race.
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