Baking weather takes its toll on Bath declarations

Fast ground sees field sizes tumble

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Officials at Bath continue to do the best they can as they prepare for another meeting on Wednesday without any rain as the long dry summer shows no sign of coming to an end.

Having had no measurable rain since May, field sizes have inevitably dropped, with 31 horses declared for the seven-race card from an original entry of 70 after races were re-opened and re-offered.

“We’re coping, as we’ve got to cope. There’s very little we can do about it, as has been well documented,” said clerk of the course Katie Stephens.

“Whilst it is a concern, you look around at the other turf courses and I think everyone is struggling.

“There’s nothing you can do. You’ve got a mile-and-a-half circuit you can’t water.”

Stephens points out that the soil at Bath is different to the rest of the country.

“What people need to remember is the structure. The soil at Bath is unique. It is never artificially watered,” she said.

“It tends to have its own kind of defence mechanism – it goes very crummy underneath.

“It breaks up underneath the surface, so it’s not baked like clay soil would be and that literally goes rock hard.

“There’s no getting away from the fact some horses want that ground. Whilst it’s not everyone’s come of tea, we are the only track in the country that will provide that really genuine fast ground.

“The ground remains firm. It is not hard. Whilst you have bits of the track that might give you that impression, the majority is still of that crummy nature.

“We think that it’s plateaued now. The going stick tells us that.

“While the dry conditions may continue, I don’t think it can actually dry out any more.

“Even if we get some rain now, the more this weather goes on the more we need for it to rain over a long period of time to change it.”

She added: “This is my eighth season at Bath and I’ve never known a season like it.”

Malcolm Saunders understands the problems facing Bath as he trains just 12 miles away at Wells.

He has the one runner, Amberine, a winner at the track two weeks ago.

The four-year-old goes for the Download The App At 188Bet Handicap that has attracted the biggest field of the day with just seven runners.

“Obviously it’s been a bit worrying for them up there,” said Saunders.

“We had five minutes of rain on Friday, but I think they missed it.

“It’s a struggle and some of the races were re-offered again. It’s a shame as it is my local track and we do a reasonable amount of runners there.

“Amberine goes on top of the ground so I’ll let her take her chance.”

Archimedes, who runs on the same race, will be making his fourth appearance of the month at the Somerset track from David Griffiths’ base nearly 200 miles away in South Yorkshire.

“He loves the ground. I don’t see any problem for those who like it. He’s well and good and we’re hopeful,” said Griffiths.

“Everyone knows what they are getting at Bath. They can’t water, so it’s going to be fast ground. The ones that love it you just crack on and run them.”

Baking weather takes its toll on Bath declarations
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