SALISBURY'S 2022 programme opens on a novel note next week with its first meeting being held on an evening.

The course has 14 dates on its own choice but is always offered a couple of others by the governing body of the British Horseracing Authority. 

The executive were given a raft of choices, and they have plumped for a card next Wednesday.

"We were offered April 20 and it set better than others," explained Jeremy Martin, the clerk of the course, who revealed their other choice is a fixture in July.

Martin is hopeful the winner of the two-year-old race will match the exploits of last year's conqueror, the Ralph Beckett trained Angel Bleu (correct), who progressed to be one of Europe's leading juveniles in taking five of his eight races, including Goodwood's Vintage Stakes and Longchamp's Criterium International.

Discussing prospects, Martin was delighted to announce an upgrade in prize money this season.

"It's up by five or six per cent," he revealed with more than £1,300,000 on offer, brought about by dipping into its reserves and increased turnover in revenue by the return of crowds no longer banned by COVID restrictions.

The course's major races are run on their back to back two day fixtures in August. This year, the group three Sovereign Stakes, which is confined to colts and geldings aged three years or older and run over a distance of one mile, will be worth £67,500. That represents an improvement of £6,000 on last year.

"Prize money for that race was once £70,000 and that is obviously something we would like to reach again."

The fillies are not being forgotten.

The Upavon Stakes, confined to their sex and likewise open to three-year-olds and over, carries a purse of £50,000. It is run over a slightly longer distance of ten furlongs.

As for the turf, Martin reported there is a good covering of grass. "Conditions are very good."

The executive has also spent about £100,000 on improvements, principally on improvements on the walkways around the Wiltshire Stand and paddock.