Yorkshire Jockeys Horse Racing

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SPARKS Fly will bid for a sensational seventh straight success when she contests the British EBF 40th Anniversary Lyric Fillies’ Stakes, the Listed highlight at York on Friday night.

The David Lowe-owned three-year-old has been a revelation since scoring for the first time on April 24 at Windsor.

That was the daughter of Muhaarar’s sixth career start and since then she has peeled off five further victories – in the process shooting up the handicap ratings from 59 to 98.

Take the £70,000 purse in her next assignment and she would become the winning-most Flat horse in Britain this season.

Whatever happens, it’s been a remarkable rise in which connections’ patience with Sparks Fly has been amply paid back.

Shropshire-based trainer David Loughnane explained: “The owner is a very good owner – he’s very loyal and always gives his horses a chance. We gave her a chance to just fill her frame a bit and a chance to develop. All her siblings have been very early sharp two-year-olds; you’d expect her to be, but she wasn’t. We gave her the time and reaped a reward.

“She’s always been a bit of a stable favourite. She’s a lovely filly and a pleasure to have around the place – everyone always liked her. Obviously, it’s been a lovely journey to be part of and I don’t think we’re finished yet.”

As regards her participation on the Knavesmire, Loughnane said: “The plan is, provided there’s ‘soft’ in the description, she’ll run.”

Given recent significant rainfall and further showers forecast, it’s very likely that the extended mile and a quarter Lyric Stakes will be raced on ground that should suit Sparks Fly. All of her six wins have come with varying degrees of underfoot ease – including heavy conditions.

Friday’s race will be the first time that Sparks Fly has been campaigned at Listed level, but Loughnane believes the filly has scope for further development.

He added: “I’d go there quite bullish if the ground conditions are right. The way she’s won every race, she’s done it with complete ease. You couldn’t not but be confident when you’re going into stakes company. I don’t think we’re anywhere near the bottom of her yet.

“I think she’d be fine on good ground as well, but it’s not something we need to find out right now. Obviously, we’re on for a seven-timer, so we just need to tick every box at the moment. But I think up to a mile and a quarter, and even a mile and a half in time, there’s still plenty left in the tank.”

Jockey, Laura Pearson, is poised to extend her association with Sparks Fly. She has ridden her in her last four wins, helping the apprentice ever nearer to riding out her claim. At the time of writing, she needs just one more to reach the landmark 95th winner.

Loughnane said: “Laura’s been riding for us for a long time. Even though she’s not apprenticed to me, she’s been a part of our team for a while now. We have full faith in her. It’s very easy to leg Laura up on a horse and go out knowing she’ll get the job done.”

York Racecourse begins its ‘Music Showcase Weekend’ on Friday night. The seven-race card, which begins at 5pm, will be followed by a concert by The Human League. Saturday’s racing highlight is the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes. After the action on the track, attention will turn to the big stage where singer, Craig David, will be performing.

Both days form part of the week-long Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival.