Swan Song can bid apt farewell to sprint great 


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The Independent Online

How fitting it would be if Swan Song could win at Haydock this afternoon to mark the passing of her dam, Lochsong, who died last Tuesday.

The hugely popular “Queen Of Speed” was the best sprinter of her day, the first to win the Stewards’ Cup, the Portland Handicap and the Ayr Gold Cup in the same season in 1993 before really stepping up a gear the following year with victories in the Nunthorpe Stakes and the first of two Prix de l’Abbaye triumphs.

The aptly named Swan Song (3.15 Haydock), her last foal, is not in her class, but there are reasons other than sentiment to suppose she can step up on previous form to beat more highly rated opponents in the Listed Achilles Stakes.

Lochsong, as her record shows, was a late bloomer, not peaking until she was five, the same age as Swan Song, who put up a career best at Chester last time out. Her trainer Andrew Balding is confident the best is yet to come.

Cubanita (2.05 Haydock) is another improving mare, although a tame finish at York last time might suggest otherwise. That was surely just down to a lack of stamina and she is better judged on her previous winning effort over today’s shorter distance.

Part one of the long-running Scoop6 saga ended happily with eight millionaires last weekend. Now for part two and the £5m plus bonus attached to the predictably fiendish handicap sprint at York. Those finding sleep rather difficult this past week range from a bin cleaner, whose life changed after he staked the £2 change in his pocket as an afterthought, to a professional syndicate which invested so much over the three months of rollovers that it is actually out of pocket on the bet so far.

They don’t need advice from anybody, but if I were lucky enough to be in their shoes I would be looking closely at Top Boy (2.50 York), who has run two cracking races from two starts at the track, including last time out when he was slightly unfortunate not to win. Jamaican Bolt is also one for the shortlist, although on recent evidence his high draw might count against him.

Clever Cookie (2.20 York) developed into a smart hurdler over the winter and is now displaying a similar level of ability on the Flat. He is being aimed at the Ebor Handicap in August, which suggests connections expect him to be even more effective over today’s trip of 14 furlongs than he was when winning a decent prize over an extended 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire earlier this month.

Rye House (3.35 Newmarket), a promising fifth in that race, also very much catches the eye stepped back up to a mile and a half.

The Chester Vase runner-up Romsdal may still be supplemented for next Saturday’s Derby, despite working unimpressively yesterday (as normal, according to trainer John Gosden). The much-hyped Hydrogen, however, will definitely not be going to Epsom after flopping on his belated debut at Newmarket.