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Racing: Commander to sway things Fortune's way

JIMMY FORTUNE is on the verge of one. One piece of alacrity is all that seems to be required for the jockey to earn membership of the privileged riders' club.

Robert Sangster may not be the force of old, but the seat on his horses remains one of the best in the house. Sangster has already made a very public approach for Fortune's services and the final interview appears to be the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster today. Commander Collins is his transport.

Fortune's gain would be John Reid's loss. The Ulsterman reckons to have made two errors in his five-year association with Sangster - Revoque in last year's 2,000 Guineas and Circle Of Gold at Ascot this season - but they seem to be occasions when Sangster had the money down. He has not forgotten.

Fortune's exam today is not the most stringent. Commander Collins has the reputation of being about the best two-year-old at Manton, a reputation he hardly dulled when scooting home on his debut at Newmarket in July. That made him a 20-1 shot for next year's 2,000 Guineas with Coral, who also quote the colt at 25-1 for the Derby.

There was little time for celebration in the aftermath of Headquarters. The day after his win Commander Collins started coughing and was off games for six weeks. "I have brought him back slowly and his run in the Champagne will tell us a lot," Peter Chapple-Hyam, his trainer, said yesterday. "One thing is for sure, he'll improve on whatever he does here. He's really been pleasing me.

"I think the trip of seven furlongs is as short as he wants to go nowadays. I had loads of plans for him after Newmarket, but then everything went wrong. The rain-softened ground might be a slight worry, but hopefully he'll handle it."

COMMANDER COLLINS (nap 3.05) should win here, but has another unbeaten colt to overcome in Locombe Hill. Michael Blanshard's representative does not have the form of others in the contest, however. "This is a big step up in class for him," the Lambourn trainer said yesterday. "I honestly don't know if he is up to this because I have nothing at home that can go with him. He will like the ground as it was good to soft the first time he won.

"I'll be over the moon if he is in the first three. He is a colt that has always worked well, but I'm not going to start raving about him."