Flintshire the value call against Cirrus Des Aigles

RACE 3 2.40pm
Investec Coronation Cup

AN INVESTEC Coronation Cup without a Ballydoyle runner is a bit like a cheese sandwich without pickle. Aidan O’Brien has won the race a record seven times and all of those wins have come in the last nine years.

The late St Nicholas Abbey dominated this contest for the last three seasons. Fittingly, this afternoon’s race is being run in honour of the great horse who tragically lost his battle with injury.

Team Ballydoyle were set to saddle last year’s Derby winner Ruler Of The World, but the four-year-old suffered a small setback earlier this week and had to be pulled out.

His defection from the Group One prize appears to have left the door open for eight-year-old Cirrus Des Aigles.

Corine Barande-Barbe’s superstar gelding has been a wonderful servant and he seems better than ever this term. Disappointing on his seasonal reappearance, as is the norm, he ran a cracker behind Gentildonna in the Sheema Classic before inflicting a first defeat on last year’s breathtaking Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Treve in the Prix Ganay.

Then last month he beat Olympic Glory comfortably in the Prix D’Ispahan, once again revelling in his favoured soft conditions.

He is going to be very difficult to beat this afternoon, but the main worry is the trip as his best form has come over shorter than 1m4f. He should stay, although he has never raced at Epsom before and at just 4/5 with Star Sports I have to look elsewhere.

Andre Fabre has won this race six times, but not since 2006 with Shirocco. The French trainer hasn’t made many trips over to the UK in recent seasons, but he has a brilliant strike-rate on these shores.

FLINTSHIRE is his candidate this year and as long as the ground doesn’t deteriorate too badly, he should go very close indeed. The son of Dansili was a very impressive winner of the Grand Prix de Paris last July, but then ran poorly in both the Niel and Arc on soft ground.

In three runs on a decent surface he is unbeaten and he has absolutely no issues with the trip. Of course, this unique track could catch him out. Yet jockey Maxime Guyon is riding very well at the moment and will take great encouragement from his 1000 Guineas win on Miss France last month.

Talent outstayed her rivals when landing last year’s Investec Oaks and ran a cracker to finish second in the St Leger. This will be her first start of the season and Ralph Beckett’s horses tend to run very well on the Downs.

Fillies don’t have a great record in this race, though, and she will have to be pretty decent to get the better of the likes of Flintshire and Cirrus Des Aigles.

The German-trained Empoli has to go on to the shortlist after his excellent fourth in the Sheema Classic. That was a career best, however, and he has only won one of his 10 starts. He will do well to make the frame here.

If you’re looking for a bigger-priced each-way selection, it would have to be Roger Varian’s Ambivalent. Undoubtedly a bit of a madam, she is very talented and won the Middleton Stakes at York really well last time.

She has plenty to find with the two market principles, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she nicked third before going on to compete in the big fillies’ races like the Yorkshire Oaks and the Nassau.

The rest look out of their depth and it really will be a surprise if the two French runners don’t occupy the first two spots. Cirrus Des Aigles will love any rain that falls, but Flintshire has to be the selection at 4/1 with Star Sports.

■ Ben Cleminson’s 1-2-3
Cirrus Des Aigles