THE going at Royal Ascot on the opening day today is officiallly 'soft'.

Chris Stickels, Ascot's Clerk of the Course, confirmed the ground was soft around 12.30pm ahead of the first race at 2.30pm.

The Berkshire venue had four millimetres of rain overnight and gained a further five millimetres of rainfall earlier this morning.

Stickels said: "It is soft on the straight course, we have had another five millimetres since first thing this morning.

"The track felt pretty wet from that recent rainfall. It improved a bit as I got towards the finish but that might have been as the rain had a bit more time to soak through.

"It certainly felt quite wet by the seven-furlong and one-mile start, but further up the straight, the ground has taken the rain. We expect to get more showers which are forecast throughout the day.

"I changed the going description to soft first thing this morning when I walked the track (6am) as we had four millimetres overnight. A further five millimetres have fallen since and it is still soft but very wet.

"We have two races on the round course today. Coming up the hill on the round course is not too bad. The wettest of the ground will be going down the hill and at Swinley Bottom.

"We put an additional piece of rail up yesterday. That rail will stay in place today and tomorrow and then come down to provide a bit of fresh ground for Thursday. There is also another rail which will provide fresh ground for Friday and Saturday."

Stickels described the going as a "rarity" for the Royal Meeting.

He remarked: "It has been really wet for the last four days. It is obviously not ground that we ideally want to start the meeting on.

"I know it is going to suit some horses and they will be very pleased to have soft ground. But it is not what we aim for - it is just one of those years. It is a rarity but will still be a great week's racing."

Stickels was also hopeful of the weather improving throughout the week, adding: "It is really unusual to start Royal Ascot with this type of ground, but hopefully it will be drier later in the week."