Saturday’s meeting at Ascot was abandoned after just one race after the track fell prey to a security alert.

In scenes reminiscent of the Grand National in 1997 and the King George VI Chase meeting at Kempton last year, racegoers were ordered to leave the stands following a coded phone message received at Charing Cross Hospital.

Police informed officials at Ascot that the message had been received as the runners for the Willmott Dixon Cornwallis Stakes were at the start at 1.55pm.

Racegoers were moved on to the course and to the area by the parade ring behind the grandstand while the runners and riders returned to the stables. At 2.35pm it was announced that the meeting had been abandoned and racegoers were asked to leave as police began to search the stands.

Clerk of the course Nick Cheyne said: “Unfortunately, as the result of a coded message that was received at Charing Cross Hospital and passed on to the police we had to abandon racing.

“We are greatly disappointed for everyone, not only the sponsors but all the racegoers.”

The meeting was Ascot’s last flat card of the season and had already passed a precautionary inspection at 12.30pm following heavy morning rain.

It is unlikely that either of the abandoned group races, the Cornwallis Stakes or the Princess Royal Willmott Dixon Stakes, will be rescheduled.However, Ascot will give full refunds to all racegoers.

Operations director Jane Macdonald said: “I think it is highly unlikely that we will be able to re-schedule any of the seven races which we were unable to run here today.

“Irrespective of that, however, all racegoers who send in by post their badges or tickets will receive a full refund.”

Contact the course on (tel: 01344 876876) for more details.