THERE was high drama of an unexpected kind when only six of the nine runners finished the novice stakes at Salisbury on Sunday.

First Power Em had to be withdrawn after crashing through the stalls, State Secretary was dramatically pulled up after losing his action halfway through the race and the favourite Hamoudi took a false step two out when challenging, sending Andrea Atzeni out of the side door and cartwheeling on the ground. 

Fortunately, neither the horse, nor the Newmarket-based rider was injured and Atzeni took his ride on Ispahan in the historic City Bowl handicap but he could only finish fourth behind Opera Gift to give course chairman Jeff Smith consolation for the defeat of Alcohol Free in the 1,000 Guineas. 

"Impressive," was David Probert's assessment of the two and a quarter lengths winner who belied fears he would not act on the fast ground. "His work at home has been ok. We certainly didn't hang around and were racing a long way out but two out I still had plenty of horse left under me. He's a nice progressive type."

As for the novice race, Walls of Kano had certainly improved for his recent debut at Newbury. "He didn't get home there as well as the winner," trainer Brian Meehan confirmed. "Martin (Dwyer) said he did it well but he's raw, a bit green and has not yet come into his coat. He has a bright future."

Roger Charlton, who has been markedly out of form with just one winner from 48 runners this season, has a useful prospect in Silver Bullet Lady who overcame a tardy start to land the fillies condition race.

The two-year-old, the stable's first juvenile runner of the season, looked destined to finish no better than third after swerving to her left on leaving the stalls, but as the favourite Out In Yorkshire finally shrugged off the determined challenge of Cashew, Silver Bullet Lady produced a devastating turn of foot by the running rail to pass the favourite to win by a length which gave no indication of her superiority.

"Holly (Doyle) and I were thinking we were going to be in trouble after half a furlong and constantly chasing to keep up ," said Charlton's assistant trainer son Harry of the £40,000 yearling purchase who will be aimed at Royal Ascot's Queen Mary Stakes. "But then she began to pick up and then picked up again between three and two out. That was very encouraging."

It was certainly a case of keeping it in the family. Silver Bullet Lady is by Decorated Knight who was trained by Charlton to land the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Irish Champion Stakes before retiring to stud.

Ralph Beckett, forced to take Lullaby Moon out of the today's Guineas because of the firm ground, had some solace with Oman who lost his maiden tag in the 12 furlong handicap, making Hector Crouch work hard for his prize money.

"He's a horse who certainly doesn't knock himself out," quipped Beckett. "He was flapping his ears throughout and Hector thought he wasn't doing enough near the top bend and kicked on. He will certainly get a mile, six furlongs in time and I am delighted he has got off the mark."