A POTENTIAL runner for next week's royal meeting emerged when Ardennes atoned for his disappointing debut when leading from flag fall to land the six furlong juvenile race at Salisbury yesterday (Tues).

Trainer Ed Walker, whose string is in superb form, was mystified by his run at Bath where he trailed in last - and was equally taken aback when the Soldier's Call colt got away the fastest from the stalls.

"He's a very good looking horse, still raw but has a lot of personality we need to look after. He's very fast and I was disappointed at Bath. I just couldn't work it out and I thought this six would allow him to have a very good chance of getting into the race. Tom (Marquand) was class. I was quite surprised by the start when he pinged the gate."

Ardennes's stride was shorting in the last final few yards and the trainer, who has enjoyed five two-year-old winners this season, will revert to the minimum trip next time out. "He's entered in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Ascot on Friday. The race might come a bit too soon but we will have to wait and see."

Stratusnine, a highly promising second at York, was backed as though defeat out of the question in the second division and was just getting the better of a duel with Cairdeas in the final furlong when Arabian Sun burst through the pair to win going away to give Clive Cox his first juvenile winner at the track this season.

"The two-year-olds have been running well and he has taken a step forward from his first run at Goodwood," said Cox whose Ascot team will be headed by Kurdos in the King Charles 111 Stakes, Jasour in the Commonwealth Cup and Star Banner in the Coventry Stakes. "It was a very promising performance which showed he can go further. Another furlong would help his progress. There are no firm plans. It's going to be small steps at a time."

Cox then landed the six furlong handicap with Miss Stormy Night who was her own worst enemy. She broke badly and became trapped in a pocket but just in time a gap appeared and she snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat to prevail by a neck. "She appreciated the firm surface," said Cox, quipping: "She cannot swim!"

Much of the interest in the seven-furlong novice stakes was centred on Drumstick owned by the King and Queen. Though judged to be the best turned out, he could only run on at one pace in which Perennial, the outsider of Ed Walker's two runners, beat his more fancied stable mate, Amsterdam - and that was a tale in itself.

It was the gelding's first race, though he was not short of racecourse experience. He refused to enter the stalls at Newbury on his intended first start and then failed two barrier trials. "He misbehaved then and misbehaved today, but he pinged the gate and Ross (Coakley) did a great job on him. He will stay further and I was pleased with that."

Of the runner-up, he commented: "He's still raw but finished very well and is an exciting horse."

Oisin Murphy cemented his lead in the jockeys' championship by winning the three final races, the once raced Leicester Square getting up in the final strides in the 12-furlong novice stakes. "He was in the right race. He ran well on his debut at Kempton and Andrew (Balding) has always liked him. He stuck his head out in what was a competitive race. I think they have plenty of options for him. He is a good mover."

Murphy's second winner came when the Marcus Tregoning trained Quietness clung on desperately to thwart the sustained challenge of Alhattan in receipt of 7lbs in the 10-furlong handicap, and a good day at the office was reflected by Regal Envoy making all in the six-furlong sprint to send favourite backers home happy.