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Monday 28 January 2019

Pocket Rocket Lyric Fantasy Wins Nunthorpe Stakes 1992

Foaled in Co. Cork, Ireland on January 30, 1990, Lyric Fantasy was a daughter of Tate Gallery – a full-brother to the exceptional sire Sadler’s Wells – and named, quite cleverly, after an unfinished mural by Augustus John that is housed in the Millbank institution. Bought for just 12,500 guineas as a yearling by the late Lord Carnarvon, Lyric Fantasy was trained by Richard Hannon Snr. and ridden, throughout her two-year-old campaign, by Michael ‘Muis’ Roberts. 

A small, nay tiny, filly, who stood a little over 14 hand high, Lyric Fantasy was clearly precocious and became known as the ‘Pocket Rocket’. She made her racecourse debut in the Lady Caroline Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at Windsor on April 27, 1992 and, although she had to be hard ridden in the closing stages, ran on to beat previous winner Ancestral Dancer by half a length. 

With that experience under her belt, the following month she was stepped up in class in the National Stakes, also over 5 furlongs, at Sandown. She met Ancestral Dancer again, on 5lb worse terms than at Windsor, and three other rivals, but quickened clear in the closing stages to win by 6 lengths. On her next start, Lyric Fantasy was stepped up in class again, in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. Sent off 11/8 favourite, not only did she make all the running for an impressive 5-length win but, in so doing, recorded a time of 59.72 seconds, a course record for her age group.   

Consequently, the Newbury Sales Super Sprint Trophy – now the Weatherbys Super Sprint – in which horses are handicapped according to their purchase price as a yearling, looked hers for the taking. Despite Hannon expressing misgivings about her ability to act on rain-softened ground, Lyric Fantasy was sent off 2/5 favourite to maintain her unbeaten record and duly obliged, making most of the running and winning easily by 6 lengths. 

Her next appearance was in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August, in which, as a juvenile filly taking on older horses, she received a colossal weight allowance of 27lb. She was due to carry just 7st 7lb, but Lord Carnarvon ‘allowed’ Roberts – whose usual lowest riding weight was 7st 13lb – to put up 1lb overweight at 7st 8lb. Testament to the impact made by Lyric Fantasy in her juvenile season was the fact that, at York, she was sent off 8/11 favourite ahead of the July Cup winner, Mr. Brooks, also trained by Hannon. 

In any event, ridden with a little more restraint than was customary, Lyric Fantasy led two furlongs out and ran on strongly to beat her stable companion by half a length. In so doing, she became the first juvenile since Ennis, in 1956, to win the Nunthorpe Stakes and the first juvenile filly to do so. Although she achieved a Timeform Annual Rating of ‘just’ 113 when winning the Nunthorpe Stakes, Lyric Fantasy was, unsurprisingly, named Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly for 1992. 

Her two-year-old campaign ended in a 2-length defeat by Sayyedati, when stepped up to 6 furlongs for the first time, in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September and, although she was subsequently sold to John Magnier for 340,000 guineas, Lyric Fantasy didn’t train on as a three-year-old. On her reappearance in April, 1993, she finished only sixth of 12, beaten 3 lengths, behind Sayyedati in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and, although she won the Charlotte Fillies Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at the same course the following month, she finished seventh of eight, beaten 13½ lengths, in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and last of eleven, beaten 14 lengths, in the Nunthorpe Stakes.