Name The Tune hits right note

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The Independent Online
NAME THE TUNE is on course for the Portland Handicap-Ayr Gold Cup double after taking the Sunley Rated Handicap in fine style here yesterday. The tough four-year-old sprinter burst through on the rail inside the final furlong and stayed on well up the hill for Paul Eddery, readily holding the challenge of Quiz Time by a length.

The race was in the nature of a test for Name The Tune, who has not yet won beyond five furlongs. Jo Howling, wife of the horse's trainer, Paul, said: "We brought him here to this stiff five furlongs to see if he was capable of stepping up in distance. He coped very well, so it's all systems go to the five and a half at Doncaster and then the six at Ayr."

Name The Tune (who is beautifully named, being by Chief Singer out of Try To Remember) has been a tremendous servant to Howling and his owner Chris Hammond since being bought for 2,000 guineas as a yearling. Yesterday's win was his sixth, and brought his career earnings to more than pounds 60,000.

A sprint double for Howling and Hammond went astray when their Samsolom was unplaced behind the all-the-way winner Double Blue, Lennox Lewis and Top Banana in the day's richest race, the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon. But City man Hammond, patting Name The Tune at Sandown, said: "We'll settle for this".

The standard of racing at the Esher track's annual Variety Club meeting is no great shakes, and would be greatly improved with the Solario Stakes (run before a thin crowd on Friday) as a centrepiece. But the day gives racegoers the chance to mingle with stars of screen and stage, and raise something like pounds 100,000 for children's charities in the process.

The best quality sport this weekend is at Deauville where Hernando yesterday won the Group Three Prix Gontaut-Biron. That earned the 1994 Arc runner- up a 10-1 quote from Ladbrokes for this year's race.

This afternoon it is the turn of the two-year-olds and, although there may not be anything of the class of former winners Zafonic or Arazi among the runners for the Prix Morny, it provides an interesting clash between some of the best British and French juveniles. Last year Hoh Magic became the first British-trained winner of the Group 1 event since My Swallow in 1970, and today there are four invaders - Lucky Lionel (trained by Richard Hannon), Tagula (Ian Balding), World Premier (Clive Brittain) and Russian Revival (Peter Chapple-Hyam).

Lucky Lionel has already won in France, having beaten two of his Morny rivals, Shining Molly and Barricade, in the Prix Robert Papin. Before that he was behind Tagula and World Premier when they finished first and third in the July Stakes, with the latter now 3lb better off for a length and a quarter beating. The Coventry Stakes runner-up Russian Revival, who has twice beaten Tagula, looks the pick of the British, but may not cope with the highly regarded Dayjur filly With Fascination, who slaughtered her rivals in a Group 3 race over the same six furlongs 19 days ago.