IN America they call it winning ugly but winning is certainly what he does, despite carrying his head so high he seems to have developed an interest in astronomy.

But Nine Tales is undoubtedly blessed with talent, inching out his market rival Prop Forward in a pulsating finish to the six-furlong novice stakes at Salisbury tonight (Sat).

"He's very babyish," jockey Eoin Walsh readily admitted. "But he's now won twice without really knowing what he's doing. Hopefully he will have a nice future."

Of his bizarre racing style, Walsh, who only partnered the Roger Varian trained colt for the first time in a canter on Thursday, quipped: "It was an experience. It doesn't look pretty but he has got a nice attitude."

But whether he would have won had the second not dumped Adam Kirby after leaving the paddock to gallop riderless to the start, is an interesting topic for discussion. 

Kirby had bypassed Ascot to obviously partner Prop Forward but happy the experience had not taken its toll, allowed the horse to run and for much of the race he seemed the likely winner but Nine Tales, though racing awkwardly, was nicely cajoled into making a challenge and got up to win in a photo finish.

Backed in from 5/2 into 11/10, American Star was all the rage for the juvenile maiden and did not disappoint. The Starspangledbanner colt was principally bought by connections for the Gimcrack Stakes at York's Ebor meeting next month, though trainer Ed Walker confessed, "That might be a little ambitious."

Walker had been left somewhat crestfallen when the two-year-old was firmly put in his place by a useful inmate of Richard Hannon's yard at Newbury but perked up when Hannon came over and told him they thought highly of their horse. "Today was a good opportunity for him and he did it nicely."

Winning rider Pat Cosgrave looked set for a double when he drove Bella Notte past Grey Galleon in the final furlong of the six-furlong handicap but was mugged virtually on the line by Hannon's stable companion Theotherside.

THE tactics with Pride of Hawbridge are simple - let him decide what to do.

Patrick Millman was quickly away on the nervous three-year-old sporting cheekpieces for the first time and was never headed in the one mile for amateur men riders, sauntering home by a National Hunt winning distance of 12 lengths.

It was his first success in nine outings, a remarkable statistic for a horse that cost 105,000 as a yearling and promised so much on his debut on the same track.

"But things have never worked out," confessed winning jockey Patrick Millman taking the race for the third time in successive years. "He is very highly strung and we can now only hope that is the start of things. There were no tactics as such, it was a case of jumping out positively and travel as best he wanted to go."

Morgan Cole, who learnt to ride on family ponies, wasn't sure what career to follow but opted to join the British School of Schooling and it has proved a wise choice, riding her fifth winner on the top weight Haveoneyerself in the five-furlong handicap. The Sir Mark Prescott apprentice didn't want the horse to be covered up but sit handy. She duly switched the six-year-old to the outside three out and swept past the field to win by a length and three quarters.