FIREPOWER he is named and firepower he has, as Clive Cox unleashed a potential Royal Ascot contender at Salisbury last night (Thursday, May 2).

And the best is yet to come, he said of the juvenile who understandably on his debut idled in front and had to be kept up in his work in the closing stages to score by half a length.

The world and his wife knew Firepower had been working well at home as he opened an odds-on shot in the market.

"He is a very able individual," Cox remarked of the French bred. "We have not hurried him and I fully expect him to take a huge step forward. That has given us every confidence as he has taken his first course appearance well. He is far from the finished article."

Ascot is certainly under consideration.

"We have time to take in another race before then but I'm not sure whether it will be five or six furlongs."

If that result was expected, the second certainly wasn't. Air of York had most of the field in front of him with less than two furlongs to run in the six furlong handicap but swooped late on the outside to bring off a 66/1 shock.

"The secret with him is get him covered, then he relaxes," explained trainer John Flint of the seven-year-old who had run well in his only previous run at the track. 

"This trip is a bit sharp for him but they went a strong gallop which suited hold up horses like him. Once he got switched to the outside and saw daylight, he went for it."

The seven furlong maiden was set to be fought by the juggernauts of Richard Hannon and John Gosden as Alhakmak and She's got You came to the fore but Hotsy Topsy swept through a gap between the pair and bolted up by five lengths.

"Yes, she was certainly impressive," enthused Ed Walker's assistant, Jack Steels. "She was too backward to run as a two-year-old and she surprised us a little how she ran at Newbury. She has come on from that race and her work since has been very good."

That could not be said about the quality of the ten furlong handicap which drew one of the worst fields witnessed at the track but someone had to win what transpired to be a rough race and that proved to be top weight Seascape who threatened to throw it away when he ducked to his left behind Catch The Cuban in the final furlong but David Probert straightened in time to run out a length winner.

"Let's say he improved dramatically over the winter!" quipped trainer Henry Candy of the filly who had been well beaten on her three outings last season.

Candy had high hopes of taking the feature race of the night but Past Master had to be withdrawn at the start, with pace setting Mandalayan having a protracted tussle with Hyanna who finally wore him down to win by a length.

As the temperature dipped markedly, it seemed highly appropriate the 12 furlong handicap should fall to National Hunt trainer Alan King whose Green Etoile got up in the final stride to thwart Bonneville and give Probert a double.