Maul bids for fourth Flat win in conditions suitable for jumpers
Jumpers should be in their element at Ffos Las on Sunday, when the track's family fun day will be raising funds for the NSPCC.
Conditions, already officially 'soft, heavy in places', could become even more testing, but that ought not to bother Peter Bowen's Rolling Maul, who belatedly embarked on his Flat career at the grand old age of nine and will be bidding to stretch his unbeaten run to four in the 2m Army Cadets Wales Supporting NSPCC Schools Service Handicap (4.00).
Although there are only six runners, this promises to become an extreme test of stamina and Rolling Maul is a regular in three-mile hurdles at Cheltenham.
He ploughed through heavy ground when winning his first Flat handicap at Ffos Las, and has since won a more competitive handicap at Newmarket.
Clerk of the course Keith Otteson said: "We were all right until Thursday, when it rained overnight and then kept on raining very heavily until we ended up with 23mm.
"It's going to be testing and, although there's room for improvement before racing, there's also the chance of more rain. When they say it might rain it always does, and if we get much more it could well end up heavy."
He added: "The day is being heavily supported by Alan Peterson, who has Village Vic and others with Philip Hobbs and is a big supporter of the NSPCC in Wales. We've got some nice races, and I just hope they don't cut up."
The Groove could be another for jumps boys
Peter Bowen is not the only jumps trainer enjoying the Flat this summer. Fergal O'Brien got a big kick out of the recent Salisbury success of The Groove and is back for more in the Peterson Family Supporting The NSPCC Cymru/Wales Handicap (3.00).
O'Brien said: "It was great to train a Flat winner and I'd love to train another.
"We bought The Groove as a jumper but it just didn't work out. He's owned by a great bunch of local lads and although I advised them to send him to a Flat yard they wanted to stay with me, or rather with Sally [partner Sally Randell], as she has trained Flat winners.
"I'm not worried about the ground as he gets through it, and he definitely has a chance again."
Grubs fail to spoil Bath party as sprint card proves popular
The midweek cancellation of Bath's gentleman's day owing to an infestation of chafer grubs on the home bend could have spelled disaster for the track's traditional two-day fixture, but the sprint track is unaffected and a hastily rejigged card has attracted a very healthy 69 declarations.
Malcolm Saunders is often the trainer to follow at the Somerset track, and he had three winners over the two days last year. He is well represented on the condensed fixture this time, with five runners all told and three course winners in the Prefab Windows Summer Sprint Series Final, the final event of family fun day.
The Saunders-trained Pixeleen is the 90-rated topweight and keeps more than half of the field out of the proper handicap. His Showmethewayavrilo was second in last year's final to Jonjo O'Neill's Storm Melody, who bids to repeat that success off a mark just a pound higher.
Clerk of the course Katie Stephens is relieved to have salvaged a decent card from difficult circumstances.
Stephens said: "It's all sprints, so it's quite remarkable to have 69 runners. The first race could have split three times, rather than two, as we had well over 40 declarations, and it just shows what demand there is for those sort of races here."
She added: "We are good to soft, good in places now, and we shouldn't get anything worse than the odd isolated shower. There's plenty on for all the family, but unfortunately we've had to scrap the two pony races, as they would have been racing around the bend."
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