SALISBURY racecourse has far from been immune to the intensive rain and winds that have battered Britain over the winter, with almost 30 inches recorded on the downland track which opens for business on Sunday for the 2024 season.

Though punters might find winner heavy going, horses will predominately race on the soft side of good, provided the dry weather holds.

"It has started to dry out," said course supremo Jeremy Martin.

"It has been very, very wet but the course is in really good condition and we are all set go and looking forward to the start."

This season, Salisbury is only hosting 15 meetings instead of 16 because the missing fixture was allocated to them as an extra by the sport's governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, who following consultation has led to the scrapping of the course's most valuable race.

The Sovereign Stakes, a group three challenge open to horses and geldings and contested over a mile at their two day meeting in August, was established in 2020 when it replaced the Whitchurch Conditions Stakes.

Initially classed as a listed race, it was raised to its present level in 2004.

However, it has never been well supported and only served to dilute the quality of the Celebration Mile at Goodwood a week later.

"Unfortunately, it has only attracted small fields. It's just one of those things."

The race has been replaced by a race over the same distance, confined to two-year-old fillies and worth £40,000.

Despite the industry's fears as to how the affordability checks - the Government's move to protect players gambling on line with money they can ill-afford to lose - will impact on prize money,

Martin was pleased to confirm Salisbury is putting up £1.3 million this year. "That is very similar to what was on offer last year."

Racing begins at 2.10 on Sunday with a seven furlong handicap for amateur jockeys. The seven race card has attracted a massive 140 entries and is highlighted by a five furlong dash for two-year-old fillies.

The course's other fixtures are on May 16, May 25 (evening), June 11, 16 and 26, July 13 (evening), July 24 (evening,) and July 27 (evening), August 14, 15 and 30 (evening), September 5 and September 13 (evening) before concluding with an afternoon meeting on October 3.