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Venus De Milo a lively Pretty Polly contender

The final day of the Curragh’s Derby meeting is upon us and I’m going to take a look at the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes in the hope of finding a winner! Ten runners are set to go to post in a bid for top-level success over 1m 2f and it looks a fairly hot renewal of the race, as the market tells us.


Ambivalent tops the market at 3/1 for Roger Varian and the admirable 5-year-old mare is bidding to retain her crown, having defeated Aidan O’Brien’s Was by a half-length in this race last term.


She seems to be a better animal this season having finished third in the Dubai Sheema Classic (1m 4f; 50/1) in Meydan on her first run back before reverting to this trip at York to land the Group 2 Middleton Stakes last month. Her third run of the season came a few weeks back in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and, once again, she performed really well in finding only superstar Cirrus Des Aigles and the high-class Flintshire too good over a trip that stretches her stamina.


On all known ability and form, she’ll be there or thereabouts with every chance – especially now dropped to 1m 2f on a stiff track – and is entitled to be the most fancied runner in the field. The price at the moment, however, is looking skinny enough for my liking and a bit more rain wouldn’t go astray I’d imagine. On value grounds, I’m going to look elsewhere.


The now 6-year-old Thistle Bird – a winner for the preview column on her latest start – is a mare that I’ve got plenty of time for as well and I’d be over the moon to see George Baker steer her home to success in this (yet to win beyond Group 3 level but has been beaten a neck in two Group 1’s). However, despite winning at Epsom last time out, that form isn’t enough to deem her a 9/2 shot and anyone siding with Roger Charlton’s charge will be doing so in the hope that she rediscovers her best from last term. That’s entirely possible, do not get me wrong, but the price looks skinny enough about one I’m not sure is running to her previous abilities. Maybe they’ll be back on show this time around, but maybe not…


Just The Judge for Charles Hills looks held on her third behind Thistle Bird at Epsom last time out and her hopes are likely pinned on the step up to 1m 2f working out positively. Elements of her breeding suggest it could well do and she’s 1-1 at this course having landed the 1000 Guineas here last season, but she has turned out to be a disappointment and doesn’t get me excited from a win point of view, for all that 8’s are half-tempting as an each-way play (more than capable of hitting the three if running to her true ability).


Although this will be obviously risky, taking 5/1 about VENUS DE MILO is my favoured option. The risk involved is because Aidan O’Brien’s 4-year-old Duke Of Marmalade filly comes back in trip to 1m 2f for only the second time in her eight-race career (debuted over a couple of furlongs further!) and how she’ll react to that in such solid company is hard to get a gauge on. However, the stiff nature of this track will help, whilst they’re bound to go a quicker gallop over the trip than they do in her 1m 4f events, and I think that the combination could well suit. She’s arriving her in grand order having won a Group 3 under a big weight at Cork last time out and was said to be in need of that outing, her second of the season.


If she improves for it as expected and is quick enough to go with these when the going gets tough, she’ll be in with a big chance come the end and that’s where the proven stamina will be of benefit. It really is hard to know and I may be asking myself what the hell was I thinking later on this afternoon, but 5/1 about such a classy performer being up to the more demanding speed test is enough to make it all worthwhile in my book. Whether that’s right or wrong remains to be seen. Hopefully it’s the former.


Selection for the Pretty Polly (4:20 Curragh; Sunday, 29th June):


Venus De Milo Silks Venus De Milo – 5/1, available with Betfair Sportsbook & Coral.


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