Not since 1971 had the ground on the opening day of Royal Ascot been worse than good to soft, but on Tuesday conditions were soft all round.
All the unseasonal rain that has fallen on Berkshire since last Friday means that a field of only six has been declared for Wednesday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (4.20pm).
We had hoped to see Roger Charlton’s Time Test take his chance in the feature contest of day two, but he hasn’t been declared because of the ground and will now wait for the Coral Eclipse next month.
His absence now paves the way for Japanese-raider A Shin Hikari to land back-to-back Group One prizes in Europe.
The five-year-old son of Deep Impact showed his love for this type of surface by dismantling a decent-looking field in the Prix D’Ispahan on heavy ground at Chantilly last month.
He had 10 lengths to spare at the line and is now a best-priced 4/6 with Betway to win this race.
That form certainly looks too good to be true, but he should still have too much for the likes of Found with conditions in his favour.
She has finished second on both her previous two visits to Ascot and the suspicion is she may well fill that spot again.
If there is to be a turn-up at a massive price, it could be Clive Cox’s My Dream Boat who encountered plenty of traffic problems behind A Shin Hikari last time.
He will relish the going and is far better than he showed in France. He looks overpriced at 20/1.
However, I’d far rather give that potentially muddling contest a miss and take a chance on USHERETTE in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (3.40pm).
Her trainer Andre Fabre is a master with fillies and she looks to have improved beyond recognition between three and four years of age.
She stepped up from two early season all-weather pipe-openers at Deauville and Chantilly to win the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket with plenty of authority.
She seemed to relish the nine furlongs that day and even though the drop back to a mile doesn’t look ideal, the recent rain will put more emphasis on stamina.
Her price has shortened dramatically in recent weeks, but she still looks a cut above these and the 2/1 with Star Sports looks value.
As for her biggest dangers, the market suggests that it could be the John Gosden-trained Jazzi Top who drops back in trip again.
She should have no issues with the ground but it would surprise me if she could reverse Newmarket running with Usherette.
The ground has to be a huge worry for the progressive Always Smile.
She somehow managed to wrestle defeat from the jaws of victory in the Sandringham Handicap on this card last year and has always been campaigned to date on a sound surface.
If conditions do deteriorate dramatically, then the likes of Maimara and Devonshire come into things.
The former is only at home on a heavy surface, while the latter has been in good form back home in Ireland and goes on any ground.
Usherette, 3.40pm, Royal Ascot