Ambivalent ready for repeat
Man On The Spot previews Sunday's Group action in Europe, including the Grand Prix Saint-Cloud and the Pretty Polly.
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Noble Mission won his first Group 1 race when beating Magician in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. But it looked something of a soft Group 1 and FLINTSHIRE is a more formidable opponent. The latter didn't take particularly well to Epsom when chasing home Cirrus Des Aigles in the Coronation Cup last time. But that was his first start of the year and Andre Fabre's charge go one better in this with improvement expected. Empoli was well beaten in the same race at Epsom and the progressive Narniyn will need to take another step forward after winning a Group 3 at Longchamp. Spiritjim has beaten Meleagros the last twice and looks best of the rest.
As Good As Gold hasn't lived up to his name so far though Joseph O'Brien picks him over I Am Beautiful. Both were a long way behind Jeanne Girl over 6f here last month though that was on very testing ground. BACK TO BASE, a half-sister to the very useful sprinter Ashdown Express and several other winners, made an impressive debut at Limerick where she looked suited by the fast going so she can make further progress and land this. Leading Actress battled on well to score over the minimum at Cork and won't be inconvenienced by the extra furlong while Stormfly produced a fine run in a Listed contest at Naas, though she's yet to tackle fast going.
Ernest Hemingway won this easily from Royal Diamond last year but hasn't been seen since finishing over four lengths behind Certerach in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March. The latter has some mixed form but there's no doubt he's a very useful stayer who will be difficult to beat if ready after his break. PALE MIMOSA has had very little experience but her third place behind subsequent Gold Cup winner Leading Light at Navan was a superb effort. There are collateral lines of form through that good yardstick Royal Diamond that put her on a par with Ernest Hemingway and Certerach but she has more scope than either and can take this before going up in class. Tarana and El Salvador are very closely matched on their 1-2 at Limerick but both would need to step up to take on the principals.
Older horses have a better record than three-year-olds in this and PARISH HALL can continue the trend. Jim Bolger's charge has never lived up to his Group 1 juvenile winning reputation but he ran a superb race when only beaten a neck by Magician on fast ground here last month and the winner has since been narrowly beaten in two Group 1s. Agena and Mekong River represent Ballydoyle but both have been found wanting while Elleval's best efforts have been on artificial surfaces so it's Ebanoran who looks the main threat. He ran well for a long way in the Derby and will be better suited back over this trip where he finished in front of Fascinating Rock at Leopardstown only to be disqualified for causing interference.
UK trainers have won seven of the last 12 and they include AMBIVALENT, who scored a year ago under a brilliant Johnny Murtagh ride. Andrea Atzeni has taken over the reins and hasn't won on her so far at the top level but she's been competing in very good races and looks to have everything in her favour for a repeat. Thistle Bird started favourite when well beaten by her in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York but proved that wrong when landing a Group 3 at Epsom. She's run well at this level several times and looks a threat. Just The Judge wasn't far behind in that latter event and was staying on at the finish while Venus De Milo has won two Group 3s over 1m4f but is just as accomplished over this trip and won't mind the fast ground - she looks the best of the Ballydoyle pair in front of Irish 1000 Guineas winner but beaten Oaks favourite Marvellous.