The great man didn't appear, there again no one really expected him to do so. Eighteen years had passed since Aidan O'Brien saddled a runner at Salisbury, his last being Dylan Thomas, subsequent winner of the Irish Derby and Champion Stakes, who ran in the Autumn Stakes, ironically a meeting re-routed from Ascot because of major construction work there. 

Dylan Thomas was surprisingly beaten that day but now O'Brien has corrected that anomaly with Cambridge who ran out a gutsy winner of the one mile maiden. Ryan Moore had the bred in the purple Dubawi colt smartly well away to dispute the lead. Several rivals were snapping at his heels two out but under a predominately hands and heels ride, he gamely held off the persistent challenge of Houstonn by a short head.

O'Brien remained at his Ballydoyle headquarters to supervise his runners for the money laden Irish Champion Festival this week-end and it was left to his UK representative Kevin Buckley to deliver the post race briefing.

"We are pleased with that. The winning margin wasn't much but he did it," he said, emphasising how Cambridge had improved from his Roscommon debut where he ran green after a sloppy start.

Praising the atmosphere and the quality of the turf, Buckley said of the unlikely entry at Salisbury: "We like to split the courses up a little."

Cambridge, who had been one of three O'Brien entries at the meeting, will possibly take a more orthodox path next month with the Royal Lodge at Newmarket but Buckley was understandably non-committal whether he would take up the engagement. "It wouldn't be beyond possibilities. We will take him home and see how he comes out of this, but we do know he can travel and handle the ground. He has a nice action. He's improving and Ryan said he liked his attitude."

At the other end of the scale, Ralph Beckett appears to have a bottomless pit of quality two-year-olds as exemplified by Skellet who swept past Serene Seraph in the final furlong of the seven furlong affair for fillies.

Beckett, who with six winners is the current leading trainer at Salisbury this season, does not want to over-face her this Autumn. Despite the ease of her win, he has next year very much in mind and will probably forgo the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket in three weeks time. "This is a nice filly for next season. I will take a conservative view, she's still learning."

Juniper Berries caused a major upset as a last gasp winner of the group 3 fillies' sprint. The two-year-old, winner of only one of her previous six starts, collared northern challenge Dorothy Lawrence on the line. A surprise for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton? "Well, yes and no. I thought the step up to six would help and the ground would help. We know she has this amazing turn of foot and it's a question of delivering it at the proper time." 

Then she quipped: "I'm not used to this. I win 0-60 handicaps! She will be a fun horse for the owners next year but she might run in the Cheveley Park next month. Well, why not?"

But Juniper Berries did have fortune on her side. The 11/4 favourite Soprano crawled out of the stalls to lose to several lengths but finished strongly to finish third, beaten less than two lengths.

The most appropriate winner of the meeting came with the Andrew Balding trained and Jeff Smith owned Frankness in the Lochsong Handicap run in memory of the flying filly voted the European horse of the year in 1993. Lochlong was trained by Ian Balding, Andrew's father, and owned by Smith, a course director.

"What a wonderful race to win," smiled Smith. "I have been trying for years to win this race. Funnily enough, I don't think I have had many runners in the race and I don't think any has troubled the judge."