Musical connection means Celtic calls the tune

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The Independent Online
Divisions are growing inside Celtic Swing's training camp. Everyone agrees the colt is brilliant, but they are split over how to pronounce his name.

Is it Celtic (with an ``S''), as the colt's trainer, Lady Herries, and his owner, Peter Savill, along with the majority of television commentators all call him? Or is it Celtic (with a ``K''), as others insist - including the Kent cricketer, Graham Cowdrey, the man who gave the beast his name in the first place?

Cowdrey, whose wife Maxine is assistant trainer at Lady Herries's stables, is sure which side is right. He has evidence from a Van Morrison record, no less, to back up his argument.

``Lady Herries asked me to name the colt when he was a yearling,'' explained Cowdrey, a great fan of Morrison. ``Celtic Swing'', a saxophone track on Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, his 1983 album, was chosen.

``It was the same track we arranged to be played when Maxine and I signed the register at our wedding,'' Cowdrey said.

The colt's dam is Celtic Ring (putting Cowdrey in mind of the track in the first place), and her sire was Welsh Pageant, which adds to the Celt connection. Still, Cowdrey is in a minority against those who use the alliterative pronunciation.

But there are no family disagreements at the stables - Lady Herries's husband is Graham's father, Colin Cowdrey, the former England cricket captain. Everyone is far more interested in the horse's career, and Van Morrison himself may be persuaded to become a fan of the unbeaten colt.

``I went to see Van at Cambridge last week, and afterwards I had a talk with him,'' Cowdrey said. ``He isn't big into horses, but if Celtic Swing ran in the Irish Derby in July, it would be great to see Van at The Curragh.''

One thing is for sure - if this colt wins a Classic, we will soon be seeing slow-motion film of his elegant stride set to a certain saxophone theme.