Racing: Punters seek a soft touch with Turtle: Rain returns to give Ascot's Festival turf its customary soaking - Greg Wood reports on the betting moves as the line-ups for Saturday's races take shape

CAST your mind back over recent Festivals of British Racing at Ascot and a common thread quickly emerges. Who could forget Warning winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, in the pouring rain? Or Selkirk's late surge to take the same race? In the pouring rain.

You can put it down to coincidence or bad luck, but as rain swept the Berkshire track yesterday afternoon, the clerk of the course could have been forgiven a minor persecution complex. Ascot has a particular problem with heavy rain, which causes the track to deteriorate swiftly to the consistency of wallpaper paste, making racing - not to mention punting - an exhausting and generally thankless task.

'We have had half an inch of rain and it is still raining,' Sir Nicholas Beaumont, the clerk of the course, said yesterday. 'The going is currently good to soft, and soft entering Swinley Bottom.' These are not the conditions to suit Grand Lodge, winner of the St James's Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting, and as expected William Jarvis's colt was withdrawn from the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the feature event of Saturday's Festival card, at yesterday's five-day stage.

'He is absolutely fine, but he was never going to be declared for Ascot,' Jarvis said yesterday. 'His next run will probably be in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket on 15 October.'

The nine entries remaining in Saturday's race may be further depleted if the rain continues. Sayyedati, last year's 1,000 Guineas winner, 'will not run if the ground is soft,' according to Clive Brittain, her trainer. 'Her main target is the Breeders' Cup, so we don't want to give her a hard race on ground too heavy.'

Predictably, betting interest yesterday centred on horses with proven form on easy going, and one in particular. Turtle Island, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, may finally get a repeat of the conditions which saw him succeed by 15 lengths at The Curragh, and after an original quote of 10-1 in Hill's ante- post book, Peter Chapple- Hyam's colt was cut to 4-1 (from 5-1) yesterday.

Favourite with that firm is Distant View, the Sussex Stakes winner, at 2-1. After 4-1 Turtle Island, they bet: 9-2 East Of The Moon, 7-1 Mehthaaf, 8-1 (from 10-1) Bigstone, 8-1 Ski Paradise, 10-1 (from 8- 1) Barathea, 16-1 (from 12-1) Sayyedati, 66-1 Maroof.

Saturday's second Group One contest, the Fillies' Mile, has attracted 11 entries, including John Dunlop's impeccably-bred Aqaarid (by Nashwan out of Ashayer) and Sir Mark Prescott's Red Azalea, who might prove to be the top-class performer the trainer so earnestly desires.

In the Royal Lodge Stakes for juvenile colts - won last year by Mister Baileys - the 10 runners have more potential than proven form. Only Henry Cecil's Eltish, the likely favourite, has a Group win to his credit, but Fahal (David Morley) and Stiletto Blade (Ian Balding) should be capable of giving him a race.

The biggest gamble of all yesterday concerned Finger Of Light in the Festival Handicap. Michael Stoute's filly has not seen a track since finishing last in a Listed race at Newmarket in May, but her recent home gallops seem to have persuaded someone that she has a serious chance on Saturday.

Finger Of Light is 8-1 from 14-1 with Hills, two points behind Hever Golf Rose at the head of the market. However, the smart cash is now on and anything that follows at such short odds is mug money, particularly since midweek gambles tend to drift on race day. Even then, with the draw also likely to play a part, there will surely be more attractive bets.

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower