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Salisbury preview: Stockhill Diva has rock solid claims

Stockhill Diva posted a cracking effort when runner-up on seasonal reappearance, and can defy a rise in the weights to go one better in the 1m 2f handicap on today’s eight-race card at Salisbury (15.55).

The Brendan Powell-trained mare pulled hard and didn’t get the clearest of runs before getting collared close home and beaten a neck by Compton Bird in a competitive 16-runner contest at Newbury.

It was a cracking effort, and the pair pulled seven lengths clear of the third home Mister Mayday who has come out and won since.

That gives the form a solid look, and suggests that a 6lb rise in the weights for Stockhill Diva is not as harsh as it first appears.

Judged on that run, the daughter of Haafhd may have more to offer and she remains relatively lightly-raced for a five-year-old.

Stockhill Diva is also entitled to come on for the run, and was twice successful at around this time last year.

In the 7f handicap (16.55), Royal Normandy is a fascinating contender now stepped up in trip and fitted with the cheekpieces for the first time.

The gelding failed to cut any ice in two starts as a juvenile, but posted a much improved effort on seasonal reappearance when when fifth of 10 to Classic Win over 6f at Leicester.

Royal Normandy raced close up until being outpaced, but then kept on inside the final furlong under tender handling to be beaten just over 11 lengths.

It was a run which suggested a step up to today’s 7f would suit, and the form of the race has worked out well as the runner-up Accra Beach and third home Aranka have both come out and won since.

Royal Normandy has given opening handicap mark of just 54 on the back of that effort, and that could be lenient if the fitting of the headgear for the first time has the desired effect.

The three-year-old’s handler Andrew Balding also does fairly well with his runners at the venue, and with Liam Keniry in the saddle it would be no surprise to see Royal Normandy improve significantly now going down the handicap route.

Selections:
13.55: Racquet
14.25: Blacklister
14.55: Shell Bay
15.25: Aussie Ruler
15.55: Stockhill Diva (NAP)
16.25: Chauvelin
16.55: Royal Normandy (NB)
17.25: Gung Ho Jack