Racing: Quinn best man for Silver Groom: BBC Severn may save punters from going to the dogs, but could break the banks

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The Independent Online
IN THE long-gone days of the ITV Seven, abandoned meetings would be replaced by a visit to Harringay dogs (now also long-gone). By switching from waterlogged Ascot to Worcester's jumps meeting this afternoon, the BBC proves itself to be a more upmarket organisation. Just.

The 2.25 will be one of the few selling handicap hurdles in Turf history to receive nationwide coverage, though the station's perfunctory approach to coverage means we will probably be denied the subsequent auction of the winner ('Who'll offer me 500gns? 200? A cheese roll?'). The irony of it all is that Worcester, thanks to its location on the flat banks of the Severn, is usually the first course to fall victim to heavy rain. Not for nothing are the bars and weighing room built on 18-inch brick stilts.

A couple of inches of overnight rain might still mean that the runners in the first find that they swim with the fishes, but at the very least the ground will be deep and demanding. It could be one of the few occasions when Worcester and Brown Sauce (2.25) are an ideal mix.

Meditator (3.25) was running for the first time since April 1992 at Newton Abbot on Tuesday, so his thorough mauling of six rivals, all of whom were receiving weight, deserves a merit badge. A 5lb penalty is unlikely to halt him today.

Fitness may be a problem for the handicap chasers - only Slippery Max, almost a stone wrong at the weights, has run this season. Panto Prince (2.55) used to take on the likes of Desert Orchid in conditions chases, and while that level of form is now beyond him, he may retain his old capacity to go well fresh.

The conditions will be more of a shock to the cossetted Flat runners at York, particularly the juveniles in the Listed Rockingham Stakes. The little darlings may not fancy a mud fight, and the experience of Mazentre Forward (2.45) on testing ground should prove decisive.

SILVER GROOM (nap 2.15) won well, on soft going, for Richard Quinn at Sandown last month, before running a close second for the jockey's namesake, Jimmy, at Salisbury. Richard's return today should give him the edge over Fox Sparrow, whose uninspiring form figures hide a fine recent run in his first handicap, and a different sort of fine, one for lack of effort, back in May.

Spalding, Lincs, is not a well-known centre of equine excellence, but Roger Spicer's small operation has put Pat Eddery in the plate on Rural Lad (3.45) and their runner is clearly expected to confirm his recent return to form at Newmarket. Nordan Raider (next best 3.15) is also worth an interest from an ideal draw.

The Prix de la Foret at Longchamp tomorrow offers triva interest - it is the only Group One contest over seven furlongs in the European calendar - and little besides. Just five will turn out, including John Gosden's Tinners Way, with Dolphin Street looking most likely to go on the ground.

The real merit of Manntari's 10-length success in the National Stakes last month will be tested when City Nights, the runner-up, contests the Beresford Stakes at The Curragh.

Manntari may indeed be the first unbeatable superhorse since the last one got beaten, but it seems more probable that his form will take a knock. The Aga Khan, his owner, will find some consolation if Bawardi does the knocking.