A HORSE loses nearly 20 lengths at the start of a flat race and still gets up to win. Fiction? No, fact as a crowd at Salisbury's September evening meeting witnessed to their almost disbelief.

Quickthorn, recent runner-up in the Ebor, Europe's most lucrative handicap, shied away from the tape at the start of the Persian Punch conditions race and ducked to his right into the chute leading to the parade ring.

The start deemed he was the author of his own problem and let the field go, much to the annoyance of rider Cieren Fallon who thought they should have been recalled. "I shouted as we were still about 20-30 metres from the tape."

The 7/4 shot then set off in what ordinarily should have been a hopeless pursuit, with bookmakers offering 18/1 in running as a reflection of his chance. But Fallon was fortunate the pace was steady in the 14-furlong test and gradually made up the deficit. Four furlongs out he had attached himself to the rest of the field, stalking Jason Watson on the favourite Berkshire Rocco.

"As soon as I watched him, I knew I had him covered and it was only a question of time before I pressed the button."

And the reaction was immediate with Quickthorn overtaking the odds-on favourite inside the final furlong to ease to a two lengths win.

The Newmarket based jockey has a habit of grabbing the headlines at Salisbury's evening cards. Last time he reached the track with minutes to spare to ride a winner, and last night (Fri) he was involved in an equally tight finish - getting up in the final stride to snatch the one-mile novice stakes.

Fallon came with a devastating run inside the final furlong on the unraced Jack Darcy to thwart Wind Your Neck in, always confident the winning post would not come an inch too soon.

"He was looking around a little bit but has a great head on young shoulders," was his complimentary remark of the 24,000-guinea purchase. "He jumped out nicely, got a little intimidated early on because he was green but once he settled in the field, he was okay. He will get a bit further."

My Lucky Tip is the type of horse who beats himself in that he is too keen for his own good. The message began to drop at Epsom earlier this month and he finally came good in the seven-furlong nursery.

"He was always that too free early on," Aled Beech, riding his first winner at the course, confirmed. "I got him to settle behind with a nice pitch just off the rails and it was only a question of finding the gap and when he got it, he really took off" as the winning distance of nine months testified.

Ralph Beckett could almost qualify for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records by attending three meetings in one day in driving from Haydock to Doncaster and thence to Newmarket. "But not any more," he quipped and opting to attend his local track was a tip itself with the enigmatic Amber Dew finally coming good in the six-furlong handicap for fillies.

Hector Crouch noticeably adopted a Greta Garbo 'I wish to be alone attitude' attitude by keeping her wide of the field, eventually scooting clear by six lengths.

"She has shown lots of ability in the past but can be tricky and I kept her isolated," an assessment echoed by Beckett who remarked: "She has not been easy, very difficult with a mind of her own but she has had a nice break and that made the difference."