SALISBURY today suffered a record number of withdrawals after the predicted thunderstorms failed to materialise leaving the ground faster than the predicted good to firm.

The course, acclaimed by jockeys and trainers for its good covering of grass at Sunday's meeting, was only watered the following day in view of the forecast and though other areas in Wiltshire had welcome rain, it bypassed the track which endured another tropical night.

Ninety three horses had been declared for the competitive nine race programme but by early morning 30 had been taken out and after racing had begun, a further four were scratched. Two races were reduced to matches and a third had only three starters.

Acting on the prospect of significant rain, course supremo Jeremy Martin said: "We stopped watering on Tuesday and Wednesday bearing in mind the forecast. This is a downland course and it has just dried out. It's not bone hard, it's firm and safe."

It was a damned if he did and damned if he didn't no win situation for Martin who defending the no watering decision, said: "This was not a mistake. I stood by what I had been told. If I had watered and there had been a 15-20 minute rainstorm today, I would have had just as many non-runners."

Three were taken out of the feature race, the course's most valuable fillies event of the year, but it is doubtful any of the absentees would have coped with Alpinista who gave 27-year-old Ryan Tate the biggest success of his career. The three-year-old, baulked at a crucial stage on her seasonal debut in a listed race in France, relished her novel front running tactics to stretch clear in the final furlong.

Tate, complimenting his boss Sir Mark Prescott at being the opportunity to ride in the race, said: "This is my first black type winner and it's nice to get that monkey off my back. She has always been a nice filly and has been progressing at home. She quickened and put the race to bed. She kept on nicely and the ground was no issue."

No meeting these days can go by without Oisin Murphy registering a winner and the champion jockey notched a treble, initiated by Crazy Luck who stepping up on her debut fourth at Windsor, disputed the lead from the outset to draw clear a furlong out to score and give trainer Rod Millman, his second two-year-old winner of the truncated season. "We've had a good year and have now had nine winners since racing resumed."

Murphy said: "She did it nicely and behaved very professionally. She has obviously come on from Windsor and seven furlongs is fine for her."

The second leg came via Sidereal who endorsed Andrew Balding's fine form by leading from first to last in the novice stakes, saying: "She relaxed front, she will stay further and doesn't mind all types of ground."

His third - and Andrew Badling's second - was provided by Iron Heart who had to work hard to hold off his only rival Gentleman At Arms.

Apprentice George Rooke also notched a double, Amazon Princess gaining a virtual last stride success in the seven furlong handicap leading trainer Tony Newcombe to quip: "This was her derby."

But it had been near thing whether she ran. Had the decision been left to him, she would have been taken out in favour of softer ground at Chepstow on Saturday but Graham Craig, a member of the Joli Racing syndicate, let her take her chance. "He made the call and it worked. I don't think she enjoyed one bit and it was only her guts which made her win."

Rooke pounced late and fast on Twice As Likely in the six furlong handicap. "She got a nice lead into it and got there in plenty of time."