Clonard makes French connection

Trainer Tony Martin and owner JP McManus are set to break new ground in France today as Clonard Street goes for Group One glory in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

The Archipenko colt earned his place in the field by chasing home Ol’ Man River in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in late September, having previously won well on his debut at Galway.

Martin said: “I don’t think I’ve had a runner in a Group One race on the Flat before. I try and run them where I think they’re capable of running – whether that’s a point-to-point or a selling hurdle, or whatever. I think this horse is entitled to be there, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

He continued: “He’s been over there a couple of days and the boys that are with him are happy that he’s travelled well and everything looks good. I think he deserves to take his chance. He ran a good race in the Curragh the last day and we’re hoping he’ll go on the (softer) ground.

“The ground will be the same for us all and they’re all only two-year-olds. We’re just hoping he’ll get through and we’ll see what we can do.”

Frank Berry, McManus’ racing manager, said: “I don’t think JP has had a Group One runner before. It’s nice to have a horse good enough to run in one. We have a few nice Flat horses this year, a few two-year-olds that have run well, so it’s great.

“This horse has done nothing wrong and we think he’ll go on the ground.”

Clonard Street is joined on the trip across the Channel by Richard Hannon’s Crafty Choice.

The son of Intikhab completed a four-timer in the Zetland Conditions Stakes at Newmarket last month and Christophe Soumillon has been booked to carry the colours of Middleham Park Racing as he steps up in class.

Tim Palin, racing manager for the his owners, said: “I think it’s hard to equate the Irish, English, French and German form and you probably need a crystal ball to see how that will work out.

“Tony Martin’s horse has arguably the best form in the race but there are three or four in there. I think it’s definitely the right race for him, we just don’t know where we are with all the different form. The ground will suit him and the trip won’t be a problem.

“I think in time a mile and six furlongs or two miles would be within his compass, with something like the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, or even the Cesarewitch, being his kind of race.”

The unbeaten Epicuris, trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, has struck twice at Longchamp, most recently in a Group Three three weeks ago.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “He’s a progressive horse, a good, long-striding horse. He’s come through and seems to improve with each start. It will be a good test of stamina.”

Legendary French trainer Andre Fabre saddles the Godolphin-owned Big Blue, who was runner-up behind Epicuris in Paris last month. German challenger Palang and Capo Maximo complete the six-runner field.


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