Racing: ...And here are the headlines for 1999

Independent writers play the prediction game
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YOU DO not need to be Nostradamus to appreciate that Commander Collins is unlikely to see out the trip in the Derby in June, even though he is currently no better than 8-1 to win the premier Classic. His dam won the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and his close relative Colonel Collins clearly did not stay when third to Erhaab in the Derby of 1994

Yet a Classic could still come his way this year, particularly if there is some cut in the ground at Newmarket on 2,000 Guineas day. Similar conditions proved ideal in the Racing Post Trophy in October, and all the best judges reckoned he would improve significantly from two to three.

Nor will there be any need to consult runes or tea leaves for news of his well-being, since, unlike the Godolphin string, he is prepared in Britain for owners who like a bet. The ante-post market will reflect his health as reliably as a blood test.

Although he ran in Robert Sangster's blue-and-green silks last season, Commander Collins is now part-owned by John Magnier, which probably kept him from the clutches of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation. Another part-owner is Tony Collins, who was "warned off" the turf for several years for his part in the notorious Gay Future betting coup.

Collins, apparently, did not make a penny from the coup, which involved all manner of highly imaginative plotting. The horse which bears his name, on the other hand, should enjoy a very profitable season indeed.