05/18/2007 12:00AM

Manduro rates edge at Longchamp


The Group 1, $337,000 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp on Sunday promises to be a tactical affair, with just five older horses entered in the 1 1/8-mile, 55-yard event, only three of whom have a realistic chance of winning.

Nicolas Clement has entered the hopeless Palafamix to serve as a rabbit for Stormy River, the winner of last June's one-mile Group 1 Prix Jean Prat who disappointed going 1 1/8 miles when he finiehed ninth in his seasonal debut, the Dubai Duty Free. Even with the help of a pacesetter, Palafamix, a Verglas 4-year-old, may find the Ispahan a little too long.

Turtle Bowl, trained by Francois Rohaut to win the Jean Prat in 2005, has finished second to Racinger in his last two starts, the Group 2 Prix du Muguet and the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc, both on heavy ground. He will appreciate the good going on Sunday, but the ever consistent Manduro will be a tough nut to crack.

An Andre Fabre-trained son of Monsun, Manduro was never worse than third in eight starts last year while facing some of the world's best horses. Second in the Prix Jacques le Marois in August, he prepped for this with a 4-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket on April 21 and is a better bet to stay the Ispahan distance than any of his rivals.

* The 1 1/4-mile Prix Saint-Alary, a $337,000 Group 1 prep for the French Oaks on June 10, is a lackluster affair in which the undefeated two-time allowance winner Coquerelle may be good enough to beat a trio of Group 3-placed fillies: Topka, Party Girl, and Chinandega.