The contest in question is Saturday's five-furlong Super Sales Sprint Trophy at Newbury - where Lord Carnarvon is chairman - an event open only to juveniles bought for 30,000gns or less at one of a limited number of yearling sales. The price criterion might have been expected to rule out the season's best two-year-olds, since even in these recessionary times that sort of money barely buys the shoes for a choicely-bred early sort, but, as so often, cost and ability have proved to be inversely proportional. When Richard Hannon visited the Doncaster yearling sales with instructions from Lord Carnarvon to find a hopeful for his race at Newbury, he returned after paying just pounds 12,500gns with a filly called Lyric Fantasy.
Her three races to date have resulted in a minor win at Windsor, a six-length success in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown and, most recently and spectacularly, a five-length victory in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, in the course of which she became the first two-year-old to cover the five- furlong trip in less than a minute. Though the purse is much larger, Saturday's race is, by comparison, woefully uncompetitive, and 1-5 is both a reasonable assessment of her likely starting price and a conservative estimate of the number of lengths she will win by.
You will find few better examples of the maxim that good things come in small packages. 'I asked Richard Hannon to have a look at Lyric Fantasy for me at Doncaster,' the filly's owner said yesterday. 'He told me although she was a beautiful mover, she was a midget. But he still liked her and though I told him to bid up to 15,000gns he got her for 12,500.' Since the Super Sprint Trophy's conditions effectively say, the cheaper the horse, the smaller the burden, Lyric Fantasy will carry just 8st 11lb on Saturday, on current ratings about two stone less than would be necessary for her rivals to make any sort of a race of it.
Rather like a dragster, Lyric Fantasy's simple but hugely effective strategy is to leave the stalls at maximum revs and keep running on full throttle until her pilot says otherwise. Michael Roberts is the man who might feel that he ought to be strapped in to his saddle on Saturday. Even a large field is unlikely to pose any problems for his mount, and only the unexpected arrival of soft ground might deter her connections from running.
Even then, however, the same owner-trainer combination would have an able deputy in Suprise Offer, runner-up to Satank in the Windsor Castle Stakes at the Royal meeting, and since Hannon also saddles another talented filly in Risk Me's Girl it is far from long odds-against that the Marlborough handler's runners will have the winners' enclosure to themselves.
High Tycoon was among the juveniles scared off by Lyric Fantasy at yesterday's declaration stage, but Julie Cecil's colt will line up for Newbury's Rose Bowl Stakes. He has recovered from a minor setback which forced him to miss last week's July Stakes at Newmarket.
The best British colt in action today is Paul Cole's Great Palm, who will attempt to atone for his disappointing Derby run in the Group Two Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud. Pollen Count (John Gosden) and Bobzao (Wally Carter) are the other British challengers in a 10-strong field.
NEWBURY SALES SUPER SPRINT TROPHY (Saturday): five-day acceptors: Aradanza, Critical Mass, Florac, Grand Dancer, Joyofracing, Lady Honda, Lyric Fantasy, Princely Favour, Risk Me's Girl, Runrig, Saint Express, Selvole, Surprise Offer, Tequila Twist, Ventiquattrofogli.
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