Racing: Swinging Celtic

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CELTIC SWING annihilated his rivals in the Racing Post Trophy here yesterday. All the pre-race hype over Peter Savill's two-year-old suddenly looked gospel truth, as the colt quickened past Fahal three furlongs out and settled the race in a matter of strides.

He just went further and further away to come home 12 lengths clear of Annus Mirabilis. Kevin Darley looked almost stunned at the ease of his victory - though he pushed Celtic Swing out to the line, continuing his racing education - and delighted with the cheers that echoed round the winner's enclosure. At last racing fans have a superstar to dream about during the winter.

Celtic Swing's memorable display sent him galloping to favouritism for both the 2,000 Guineas and Derby. He is a top-priced 5-2 with Ladbrokes for the 2,000 Guineas - Coral go 9-4 and William Hill only 2-1 - and best-priced at 6-1 with Ladbrokes for the Derby - Coral offer 5-1 and William Hill an incredibly short 7-2. Hills' spokesman David Hood, explained: 'This horse is a monster. He is the easiest Group 1 winner I've seen since Shergar.'

Lady Herries, Celtic Swing's trainer, could hardly take it all in. She said: 'We always thought he was nice, but he was such a big backward type at the start of the year. We never really tried him as being special, but we did notice that we needed faster and faster horses to work with him.

'He's got such speed that we must go for the Guineas and, if he relaxes, there's no reason why he shouldn't stay the Derby trip. And he's a sensible horse, easy to train. The only problem we've had with him has been sore shins, which he suffered from early in the year and which recurred after he won at Ayr. We keep him well wrapped up now after he races.'

The millionaire publisher Savill, who holds a 250-1 voucher about Celtic Swing for the Derby, bought the son of the Derby third Damister from his breeder, Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk (Lady Herries' mother), after he went to inspect another two-year-old, Opaline, at the Littlehampton yard. He took a shine to that one's work- mate and bought both. Opaline was killed earlier in the year; Celtic Swing is Derby favourite. 'That's the swings and roundabouts of this game,' said Lady Herries.

Among the trainer's doubts beforehand was the rain-softened ground, but Celtic Swing seemed to relish it. The colt's forelegs deviate alarmingly from the norm - he is decidedly knock-kneed - and if there is a doubt about him, it may be his ability to come down Tattenham Hill on firm ground.