Celtic Swing stretches clear under Kevin Darley in the Racing Post TrophyPICTURE: Phil Smith
By Lewis Porteous 5:01PM 21 OCT 2016
IT IS 22 years since the greatest performance in the history of the Racing Post Trophy, when Celtic Swing won by 12 lengths. Lewis Porteous tells the story of the race.
It was no surprise when Celtic Swing justified short-price favouritism in the 1994 Racing Post Trophy, yet the race will not be easily forgotten.
What transpired on Town Moor that afternoon was one of the greatest performances by a juvenile when the white-blazed son of Damister galloped into racing folklore with a 12-length demolition of his Group 1 rivals.
Celtic Swing was understandably the apple of owner Peter Savill’s eye, although it was rider Kevin Darley’s gaze Savill has to thank for his association with the champion.
“Peter didn’t have an early two-year-old that year so I went to test drive a horse named Opaline who Lady Herries had and when I was there I saw Celtic Swing being ridden out in the string,” recalls Darley.
“I don’t know what it was, but he had a presence about him and that’s how it begun. The following week I went back with Peter and he bought both horses – the rest is history.”
Celtic Swing announced himself as something out of the ordinary with an eight-length victory over subsequent Japan and Dubai World Cup winner Singspiel in a conditions race at Ascot having won on debut at Ayr, although the wide-margin victory failed to impress everyone.
Darley says: “He made them look moderate at Ascot but afterwards everyone said, ‘There couldn’t have been much in that race’.”
On his third and final run at two, Celtic Swing started even-money favourite for the Racing Post Trophy and delivered a performance worthy of his coronation as Europe’s champion two-year-old for 1994.
“There was a bit of pressure but he instilled confidence in you,” says Darley. “You could pop him in behind and he’d relax, and he had this terrific turn of foot. He was clear two out at Doncaster and it was ridiculous really. He was one in a million and launched my career.”
Celtic Swing would never reach the height of his Doncaster success in his Classic year, although only Pennekamp, himself a worthy champion, proved too strong in the 2,000 Guineas before Celtic Swing won the French Derby by half a length on his next start.
Injury ended his career after a disappointing run in the Irish Derby but, despite his death in 2010, his legacy lives on. Indeed, he is the sire of Six Perfections, dam of this year’s Racing Post Trophy favourite Yucatan.