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Salisbury racecourse may not have glamour of Newmarket, but nor does it have vast open spaces reminiscent of the Russian steppes and the very best things come in small packages.
There are two group three races for two-year old stars of the future on a good six race card at the picturesque Wiltshire track. The skybet.com Autumn Stakes over a mile seems sure to produce many a horse of true quality. At the five-day declaration stage it looked like the race would cut up, but the best horses have stood their ground. Atlantic Waves, a top juvenile from Mark Johnston's yard, is the clear form pick. But Bold and Free is a strong fancy to notch a win for Godolphin. This $850,000 purchase is bred in the purple, a son of Giant's Causeway (bought before the Dubai Sheikhs decided to blacklist Coolmore stallions). He needs to reverse form with Atlantic Waves based on their running at Leicester last month, but is clearly on the upgrade. Dylan Thomas, an unbeaten charge of the Aiden O'Brien yard is probably not one of the top-notch Ballydoyle juveniles and didn't impress when winning at Leopardstown.
In the skybet.com Cornwallis Stakes over the minimum distance Hunter Street is another horse who might gain revenge on a previous victor, Godfrey Street. He looked unlucky in running in the Flying Childers and form-lines through Windsor Castle and Norfolk Stakes second Strike Up The Band are solid enough.
Whilst a new generation of horses do battle in the English shires, an established star tries a new code in north Wales. If 2004 Stayers' Hurdle winner Iris's Gift is to rise to a similar rank among chasers he must win the Bright Future Novices Chase at Bangor in good style. He is not a betting prospect but is worth setting the video for. The winner of this race last year, Comply Or Die, went on to be second in the Royal SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Selections 1:40 Salisbury Bold and Free (win)
2:15 Salisbury Hunter Street (win)