Light Fantastic Rises to Group I Level

A $15,000 maiden a month ago, Light Fantastic bloomed quickly into a group I winner.

Thirty-two days ago a horse named Light Fantastic raced at a lowly Victorian country track named Kyneton. His flaxen mane flying in the wind made eyes turn to him and so did his ability as he bolted in. It was a maiden worth $15,000.

On March 8 at Flemington in the Australian Cadbury Guineas (Aus-I) worth $750,000, that same horse Light Fantastic (Danehill Dancer-Leica Or Not) held off some of the best 3-year-olds in Australia to land the winner’s purse of $450,000 over the mile trip. It was his fourth start in 32 days and his fourth win. He is a rising superstar of the sport and was immediately sent to the paddock following his gutsy but narrow win over the luckless Marching (Commands-Step) and Playwright (Fantastic Light-Amonistar).

Mick Price who trains the winner and who has asked his young horse to perform enormously in his first-ever campaign, said after the race that Marching was "a little bit unlucky, I guess," but added that he was always confident Light Fantastic would be able to hold Marching off in the final stages.

Marching was held up at the top of the straight and this allowed Light Fantastic, who had been traveling sweetly in third spot throughout until straightening for home, to get a length break on him. But Marching, already a group II winner and group I place-getter, flew home and would have won in the next bound. As it was, Light Fantastic, lasted to win by a long head. The win took the gelding’s career earnings to $642,000.

"In all my career as a trainer I have never asked a horse to do what he has done and he sealed the deal today and did everything I asked of him. He is clearly the best horse I have ever trained," winning trainer Price gushed after lauding his gelding’s performance. "I also thought it was a very polished ride," Price said of winning jockey Craig Newitt’s well-judged ride.

"He started to feel the pinch 75 meters out, but good horses can just do it, and he did," Newitt said.

Damien Oliver rode runner-up Marching. At Flemington on this Super Saturday, there were three group I races, and Oliver finished second in all of them.