Lir Jets into Chantilly for Robert Papin test

Ascot winner goes for Group Two gold.

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Royal Ascot hero The Lir Jet bids to stretch his unbeaten record to three in the Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly on Sunday.

An impressive debut performance at Yarmouth prompted leading owners Qatar Racing to secure his services – and Sheikh Fahad’s operation was swiftly rewarded after Michael Bell’s juvenile lunged late to deny American challenger Golden Pal in the Norfolk Stakes.

With Clive Cox’s Coventry Stakes winner Nando Parrado an absentee following a setback, The Lir Jet is set to face just three rivals in France and is likely to be a warm order in the hands of champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

Bell said: “It would have been an interesting clash with the Coventry winner. If they both stay in one piece, maybe they’ll meet later in the season.

“We’ve been happy with our horse since Ascot. It’s a small field and it will be interesting to see how the English two-year-old form equates to the French two-year-old form – on paper it looks like we’ve got the best form by some way.

“Stepping up to six furlongs shouldn’t be an issue – he hit the line strongly over five at Ascot and it took Oisin (Murphy) a while to pull him up, which is always a good sign.

“I’d imagine he’ll be a hot favourite, so fingers crossed.”

Ventura Tormenta has been supplemented by Richard Hannon and Middleham Park Racing after finishing fifth in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last week, with the speedy Axdavali and Tiger Tanaka the other contenders.

There is a strong raiding party in the Group One Prix d’Ispahan, with five of the eight declared runners hailing from the Britain.

Cox is represented by Positive, who made an encouraging start to his campaign when fourth behind Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace Stakes at last month’s Royal meeting.

“We’re drawn seven of eight, but he’s in very good form and we’re looking forward to running him,” said the Lambourn-based trainer.

“I thought he ran a very good race at Royal Ascot. He’s a horse we’ve always held in high regard and hopefully he can continue to progress.

“I think he’s a worthy contender in a Group One and we’re looking forward to trying him over an extra furlong.”

Century Dream – trained in partnership by Simon and Ed Crisford – returns to the top level after making a successful start to 2020 in the Group Three Diomed Stakes at Newbury.

Ed Crisford said: “We did contemplate the Summer Mile at Ascot last Saturday and it is probably good we bypassed it after watching Mohaather win it so well.

“He is ground dependent and you normally get a bit more cut in the ground in France. He is in good form and he came out of that Newbury race really well.

“I think he can hopefully run well on Sunday. It will be tough, but he deserves to be there.”

The Charlie Hills-trained Pogo and Ed Walker’s stable stalwart Stormy Antarctic complete the UK-based quintet.

“We’re throwing poor old Stormy in at the deep end again, but I think it’s worth a shot,” said Walker.

“I thought he ran great at Newbury and you can put a line through his run at Windsor as I shouldn’t have run him there – it was just the wrong race and it was trainer error.

“There was no real harm done as he came out of the race in good form. He’s French-bred, so if he can run into a place and pick up some prize-money, he’ll get the premiums on top.

“It doesn’t look the strongest Group One ever run.”

The home team includes Andre Fabre’s Persian King and Freddy Head’s Motamarris.

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