Racing: History of time supports Fantasy: Paul Hayward expects the top juvenile filly to justify the burden of being called a certainty

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The Independent Online
THE ODIOUS claims of the tipsters who offer an 0898 route to salvation on television text services - 'Certainty, runs Friday' and 'Banker, must not be missed' are two examples - are enough to make you think horses like Lyric Fantasy appear every day. And at huge odds.

When she carries her unbeaten record into the Newbury Sales Super Sprint Trophy this afternoon, Lyric Fantasy will be the nearest thing to a 'certainty' the form book is likely to yield. Just as reliable is the suspicion that anybody locating a stream of sure fire winners at good prices would be half crazed to set up a telephone service to tell the rest of the world.

Lyric Fantasy's audience-scattering speed provides us with an opportunity to study the art of racing without placing Saturday's spending money in jeopardy. Richard Hannon, her trainer, is responsible for four of the 11 contestants in the pounds 100,000 race created by Lyric Fantasy's owner, Lord Carnarvon, but the time figures suggest that Hannon's main contender could almost run faster than his other three put together.

'I thought she was pretty good the first few times we worked her,' Hannon said yesterday. 'Or when I say that, I mean I thought we'd win a few races with her. But she's improved from race to race.

'After Windsor she came on, then there was Sandown, and then . . . Jesus . . . when she set sail in the Queen Mary (at Royal Ascot) I thought she'd have to stop. But he (Michael Roberts, the jockey) gave her a little squeeze and away she went again. There's no telling what will happen when she goes a little further (than five furlongs), but I'm sure she could sit in behind all right and it'd be lovely to think she'd stay a mile.'

All Lyric Fantasy (2.30) has to do today is last the minimum distance at the pace she showed at the Royal meeting, where her winning time of 59.72sec established her as the first two-year-old to break a minute at Ascot. That was an achievement of genuine merit, and it puts her opponents this afternoon in a different time zone.

'I don't want to think too far ahead, but after this she'll probably have a holiday,' Hannon said. 'She'll go back to his Lordship's for a couple of weeks, and then we might think about something like the Nunthorpe Stakes.' The same path to competition with older horses was taken by Paris House, who won this race 12 months ago.

With Hannon hard on the heels of Michael Stoute in the trainers' championship - and within sight of the pounds 1m mark for prize-money - it is impossible to discount any of his runners. The wonder is that fashion-wise, Hannon is still outside the top echelon of trainers, as demonstrated by the fact that none of the Arab owners have sent him horses.

Equally hard to ignore are other members of the Lyric Fantasy generation with 'P Cole' against their names. Cole's two-year-olds are currently returning a 35 per cent strike-rate, which suggests that his strong surge with horses like Generous will be maintained through the Nineties.

Prevene (2.00) should push Cole's accountant-pleasing figures still higher while Silver Wizard (3.05) can beat High Tycoon in the absurdly depleted Newbury Rose Bowl Stakes. Trainers who complain about prize-money invite the men in white coats when only three horses turn out for a pounds 12,500 race won last year by Rodrigo De Triano.

PHILIDOR (nap 4.15) and Masad (next best 3.15) are the ones to look for at Newmarket, where Pat Eddery and Michael Roberts will drop in after riding in three races at Newbury and before going on to Wolverhampton and Lingfield respectively. Roberts rides Forest Fairy (4.45) for Ron Boss, who recently defined a bank as an institution that 'lends you an umbrella and then asks for it back when it rains'.

(Photograph omitted)

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