Dunlop in pursuit of more French glory with Robin Of Navan
La Coupe Longines (Group 3) | 4yo+ | 1m2f | ATR/RUK
Harry Dunlop will be hoping the form of the Prix d'Ispahan turns out to be every bit as good as it looked at the time as runner-up Robin Of Navan attempts to add La Coupe to his list of French honours on Saturday.
Recent Goodwood Listed winner First Sitting represents Chris Wall in the Chantilly Group 3 contest, while Garlingari makes his seasonal reappearance after progressing from high-class handicapper to Group-race performer for Corine Barande-Barbe in 2016.
But it is Robin Of Navan's neck defeat to Mekhtaal – a potential winner of next week's Prince of Wales's Stakes – which is the standout piece of recent form.
"We were over the moon the other day and thought for a moment he might win," said Dunlop. "Form-wise he's probably back up to where he was when he won a Group 1 at two.
"You could say it's a little bit quick on him but he seems to have come out of it well and we'd like him to get his head back in front."
First Sitting ran as if in need of the race first time out when well beaten by Ulysses at Sandown but was seen to much better effect when steered to success by Gerald Mosse at Goodwood, a partnership Wall has retained.
"They didn't go particularly quickly in the Brigadier Gerard, which didn't suit, but he showed much more what he could do at Goodwood," said Wall. "Robin Of Navan will take a bit of beating but at least he'll ensure there's a bit of pace in the race."
The sole filly in the race, the Niarchos family's The Which Is Not, has always threatened to win a race of this calibre, while the x-factor among the six runners could be Garlingari, who was placed in the Ganay last spring but makes his first start since the Hong Kong Vase last December.
"He was really well before the Prix d'Harcourt but knocked a little callus he picked up in Hong Kong, so I had to back off him," said Barande-Barbe, who won La Coupe at Longchamp in 2011 with Cirrus Des Aigles. "He's well but will probably need a race."
Earlier on the card, Trais Fluors and Ratiocination resume rivalry in the Group 3 Prix Paul de Moussac (1.50) after Trais Fluors came out on top at Saint-Cloud last month.
Arguably the pick of the form on offer is Stunning Spirit's second to Brametot in the Prix de Fontainebleau.
"He's had a short break after perhaps not quite staying in the Prix de Guiche last time," said trainer Freddy Head. "He seems well and I think he'll run up to his best."