We are three quarters of the way through the 2016 racing season here at Salisbury, with only four meetings remaining, now seems like a good time to reflect on what has occurred at the course since it all began on Sunday the 1st of May…
The opening day of the season saw the traditionally televised feature Betfred sponsored City Bowl go to Rideonastar who received a terrific front running ride from Martin Dwyer for trainer Brendan Powell. This was the start of a successful season at the track for Dwyer, who currently sits second in the overall standings with four winners to his name. Elsewhere on the card racegoers were introduced to Stormy Clouds who took out the Betfred “Home of Goals Galore” Fillies’ Conditions Stakes for Richard Hannon & Sean Levey. This promising filly has since gone on to win the valuable Goffs Premier Yearling Stakes at York and has been a bright juvenile this term.
June brought with it Salisbury’s first pattern race of the season, the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes. In a hot renewal of the race, including a number of Group level performers, the prize was landed by Yorkshire raider Don’t Touch, who won nicely under Tony Hamilton for Richard Fahey in the strongest running of the Cathedral Stakes since its inception. On the same card Sir Michael Stoute’s Playful Sound made a winning debut and has since gone on to win again. Still unbeaten, Playful Sound promises to be another successful Salisbury graduate.
The other feature race of June, the Whitsbury Manor Stud Bibury Cup, went the way of Mark Usher’s Marmajuke Bay, the outsider in the field was guided to victory by Steve Drowne. At this stage it does not look as if the race has produced a future St Leger winner as it did last year, but Marmajuke Bay could yet progress again and become a smart performer in his own right.
July ushered in the ever popular Ladies’ Evening which saw Shirley Geary walk away with the ‘Best Dressed’ prize. On the track, racegoers were treated to three smart performances on the evening. Andrew Balding’s Isomer took the opening Bathwick Tyres British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes having previously been seen finishing 2nd in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. Amanda Perrett’s You’re Hired then landed the Cara Glass Maiden Stakes and two weeks later, was back in the winners’ enclosure, at Glorious Goodwood, following a win in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Stakes! The feature race of the night was won by Roger Varian’s Sharja Queen in imperious fashion and, despite disappointing next time out, Sharja Queen could very much still have a bright future.
August saw Salisbury host its richest race day of the season on the Totepool sponsored Sovereign Stakes Day as part of the two day Salisbury Splendour meeting. On the Wednesday the feature Listed EBF Stallions Upavon Fillies’ Stakes went the way of Chain of Daisies for Henry Candy, following a front running display under Fergus Sweeney that broke the course record!
Earlier on Wednesday’s card Akhlaaq had announced himself as a serious prospect for Owen Burrows and Paul Hanagan with a searing turn of foot landing the British Stallion Studs EBF Molson Coors Maiden. Akhlaaq holds some lofty future entries and looks to be another smart prospect to have graced the track at Salisbury.
The Totepool Sovereign Stakes took centre stage on the second day of the Splendour meeting and racegoers were treated to another impressive winner, following Kodi Bear’s romp 12 months previously. This time it was another of Clive Cox’s stable stars who landed the Sovereign as Zonderland strode clear under Oisin Murphy to land Salisbury’s feature race. Zonderland is likely to head to Goodwood for the Group 2 Celebration Mile next and there is every chance Cox’s colt could step back up into Group 1 level before the season is out. The Splendour meeting was closed by a dominant display in the Kevin Hall & Pat Boakes Memorial Stakes by Ralph Beckett’s Alyssa who has never finished outside of the placings in her six starts to date; she is a progressive filly with a bright future.
The Listed EBF Stonehenge Stakes was another well supported pattern race at Salisbury on August 19th and was won in emphatic style by Mark Johnston’s Montataire. Franny Norton was in the saddle for what looked like a thrilling ride as Johnston’s charge obliterated the competitive field by 5 lengths. Montataire now has a whole host of options moving forward and undoubtedly has the potential to become a Group class horse.
The respective leading jockey and trainers tables are headed by David Probert and Andrew Balding respectively, with seven a piece, but the chasing pack have started to close over the last couple of meetings. It could be an exciting run in!
Off the track it has been equally as successful for Salisbury. The new Spire FM 80s night on May 28th was a huge hit and looks set to return again next year due to its popularity. Similarly the family race days that have occurred throughout the season, offering free children’s entertainment, have also been a success. The now traditional Ladies Evening goes from strength to strength with over 6,500 attendees again this year as does the Night Club race night in collaboration with the Chapel; over 5000 attended this year.
Salisbury continues to go from strength to strength both on and off the course and we are looking forward to finishing the season on a high with four quality fixtures remaining.