Racing: Bookies base betting on flight of Fantasy

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EVEN though it takes only a minute to run, Royal Ascot's King's Stand Stakes seems likely to consume punters' thoughts and their cash more than a week before the event. William Hill have decided that apart from the money-spinning handicaps, the Wokingham and Royal Hunt Cup, Friday week's King's Stand is the most interesting race to involve punters in and yesterday opened a book accordingly.

Lyric Fantasy, who lowered the course-and-distance record in the Queen Mary Stakes at the meeting last year, is their favourite at 5-2 having finished sixth in the 1,000 Guineas and winning a six-furlong Newmarket event last month. 'She is in great nick and has been bucking and kicking to get back on to the racecourse since her last run,' Richard Hannon, her trainer, said.

The bookmaking firm rate Wolfhound her toughest opponent and quote him at 11-4. The John Gosden-trained colt was beaten a head by Paris House in the Temple Stakes at Sandown last week, but renews rivalry on 3lb better terms. They then bet: 11-2 Zieten & Paris House, 8-1 Gharah, 14-1 Surprise Offer, 16-1 Elbio.

The improving handicapper River North is set to have his first success expunged from the record books after post-race tests revealed the presence of a prohibited substance. A drug used in the treatment of respiratory problems was discovered in a sample taken after the Lady Herries-trained gelding won at Brighton on 8 April. He is certain to lose the race at a Jockey Club inquiry. 'There is nothing sinister in this,' David Pipe, the Jockey Club's spokesman said. 'The inquiry will simply try to establish how the horse came to be adminstered with the substance.'