NO bookmakers, no bars, no fans, no fanfares.

All very eerie.

To borrow a line from Star Trek: "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it."

But sadly, this is racing summer 2020, and Salisbury had to embrace it last night.

It was racing behind closed doors with the public banned and in its variegated near 500-year history, the course would not have not witnessed anything comparable.

It should not be like this. Racing needs a full house, a crowd in full cry to create an atmosphere. Like the moon and Mars, it did not have one.

At least, the sun shone and there was no shortage of runners in the marathon card with more than 100 declarations but as the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing and a card of nine races certainly was, with the first off at 4.35pm and the last at 8.45pm.

The track should have been halfway through its seasonal programme with its highly popular ladies night but the pandemic dictated it was only staging its first.

For the press, it's normally a simple routine of turning up, setting up the laptop and covering the action.

Not this time for the Journal, the only newspaper in attendance.

Two health related questionnaires had to be completed before race day.

On arrival, visitors underwent Identity and temperature checks. Failing either would mean no admittance.

That completed, they were issued with a wristband, directed into the public car park and told to follow signage into and around the course where they were required to observe strict instructions of where to go and where not to go.

The parade ring was set out in circles to keep a jockey and the stable representative apart from other connections. One bar was extended to accommodate riders and serve as the weighing room, and another was deployed as the isolation room for anyone taken ill and unable to drive home.

Only two owners per horse were permitted to attend and they were denied the thrill of going into the parade ring and winners enclosure. Instead, they watched the action from the main bar and restaurant.

All post-race interviews were conducted at two metre distances with Jack Mitchell the main focus, riding his first four-timer. Three of them for equally in form Charlie Hills, and achieved in front of his father.

Social distancing was certainly evident in the opener as Rewaayat proved a handicap snip by bolting in by seven a half lengths.

"Charlie was very confident and told me to keep it simple," said Mitchell. "He won last time, despite doing just about everything wrong. He benefited from the strong pace and galloped through the line."

Their second was provided by Prado who came from last to finish in the fillies novice race after plans went awry at the stalls.

"She jumped well from the gate but then the wheels spun and I had to take my medicine at the back. But she was very professional, she's got early speed and I liked the way she quickened."

His most impressive winner was Tinder Toy who was sent off the even money favourite as the world and his wife knew of the unraced colt's potential.

Mitchell had been a little reluctant to talk up his chances before the race, perhaps out of superstition, but the three-year-old cruised into the lead two out as though in second gear and readily drew clear to indicate he will be stepped up in class next time.

"We had a wide draw but it gave him a clear view of things. He was a little babyish when he hit the front but otherwise did everything right."

Winner number four arrived courtesy of Monsiuer Lambrays, despite slightly drifting to his left, as his custom, under pressure. The horse, who never wins by more than he has to, tends to run in snatches and the fitting of a visor certainly aided his concentration.

"He was a little unlucky last time at Pontefract and needs headgear."

Hills's third winner was provided by Baashir who led from virtually first to last, bringing a quote from Martin Dwyer: "He's got brains, he's got an engine and he's learning."

If breeding was the sole criteria for success, it was impossible to overlook the credentials of Francesco Guardi, sired by the mighty Frankel and whose dam is a half-sister to Treve, winner of two Arcs. Though he only snatched the spoils in the dying stride, Hector Crouch was impressed.

"He ran very green early doors and I didn't want to the outside but I didn't think he was mature enough to go through the middle. When he got clear, he really motored and in the final furlong, he really got the message. He was perfectly willing."