IT was good to be back!

After a painfully long 18 months, Salisbury was finally able to welcome back a crowd with some 900 spectators bringing back to the course what it has so much missed - excitement and an atmosphere.

Until last night, racing at the historic track has been held behind closed doors. No bookies, no bars, no fans, no fanfares. Simply dull, just like the weather of late. But belatedly summer arrived and hundreds converged on the two enclosures.

And those who backed the winner of the opening race, there was an unexpected bonus. Trainer William Haggas has been operating at an astonishing 29 per cent success rate of late and in Second Wind who won in pleasing style at Yarmouth, he surely had the favourite in the market. But no. The Kodiak colt drifted remarkably in the betting in the face of massive support for Ralph Beckett's unraced Lovely Mana and was returned at 7/1.

However, experienced paid off.

Second Wind broke well and Cieron Fallon was able to grab the far rail and quickly led. Though pushed along two furlongs out and drifting to his left under pressure, he never looked in danger of defeat. An extra furlong will certainly not come amiss but he is likely to remain at five with Royal Ascot's Windsor Castle likely to come under the radar.

"He has a good attitude," reported Fallon who had only arrived at the course with minutes to spare after enduring a nightmare four-hour trip from Newmarket because of bank holiday jams. "Heavy traffic everywhere."

It was a subject endorsed by Dane O'Neill. who quipped: "We all want racing to return to normality but not getting stuck in traffic."

Initially he suffered the same problem on board Asjab who coped with the soft ground rather than enjoyed it to nevertheless shoot clear of his field at halfway to run out an easy winner of the six furlong maiden. "The first half was certainly more difficult than the second. A month ago he wasn't showing much but Roger (Varian) has been very patient with him. He's a big horse and will improve when he gets more organised."

Be Prepared has been slipping down the weights after an abortive two years and had it not been of the advice of Hollie Doyle, it would have undoubtedly stretched further. Connections were considering putting the four-year-old up in distance but she advised them - put blinkers on. Unfortunately for Doyle, she was booked for Spanish Star in the six furlong handicap and her loss was Kieran O'Neill's gain.

"Hollie rode him last time and told us he's a sprinter and put blinkers on and she was so right," said owner Peter Cook who revealed the horse had been beset with a series of problems and needed gelding. "He's been running on all weather and that was wrong. But that's hindsight for you and everything has worked out well."

Fallon went to complete a double on Military Milliner but unlike most of Emma Lavelle's string, he will not be going jumping. "The owners like their flat racing."

The five-year-old has taken time to strengthen and develop and Lavelle was uncertain if he would handle the ground. "Cieron said he enjoyed it and I'm delighted he did."