06/27/2014 3:54PM

Noble Mission in fine form for Prix de Saint-Cloud


There is Group 1 action in France and Ireland on Sunday, with The Curragh hosting the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud carded at Saint-Cloud just west of central Paris.

The 1 1/2-mile Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, worth about $567,000, drew seven entrants, including two Juddmonte Farms homebreds, Noble Mission and Flintshire, and two Aga Khan homebreds, Narniyn and Siljan’s Saga. The Juddmonte pair would appear to have the edge.

Noble Mission, trained by Lady Cecil, has come around beautifully this year at age 5, and after finishing second in his seasonal debut, he has put together a three-race win streak capped by his first Group 1 score May 25, a 1 1/4-length victory over Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Magician in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh. The undulating right-handed course at The Curragh differs from the fairly flat left-handed course at Saint-Cloud, but Noble Mission, a front-running type ridden by James Doyle, also has won at tight-turning, left-handed Chester and at right-handed, hilly Sandown this season.

Flintshire, based in France with trainer Andre Fabre, would appear to have at least as good a chance. Eighth of 17 while ending his 3-year-old campaign in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year, Flintshire made his 4-year-old debut in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, finishing second of seven while beaten only by top-class Cirrus des Aigles. Fabre has won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud twice in the last four years.

Narniyn has won four in a row for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, but Sunday’s race will be his first above the Group 3 level.

Ambivalent seeks repeat in Pretty Polly

Ambivalent scored her only Group 1 win in the Pretty Polly Stakes last year at The Curragh, and the 5-year-old Roger Varian-trained mare will be back for a second crack at the race Sunday.

Ambivalent performed admirably in defeat last out, finishing third behind Cirrus des Aigles and Flintshire in the Group 1 Coronation Cup on June 7 at Epsom. She probably better suits the 10 furlongs of the Pretty Polly than the 12 furlongs of the Coronation and should enjoy the good-to-firm going forecast for Sunday’s card.

The 3-year-old Marvellous tackles older foes for the first time in the Pretty Polly, but trainer Aidan O’Brien has twice in the last seven years won the race with a 3-year-old. Marvellous finished a one-paced sixth of 17 last out as the tepid favorite in the Epsom Oaks, but her previous start produced a comfortable win at The Curragh in the Group 1 Irish Oaks. That race race came over one mile, though, and Marvellous will be asked to stay 10 furlongs Sunday. O’Brien also has two 4-year-olds in the race, Venus de Milo and Peace Burg.

• The 3-year-old filly Lesstalk In Paris, most recently second in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, died Friday morning in France during a veterinary examination related to a possible sale, according to published reports overseas. Details concerning the filly’s demise were sketchy.