Thistle Bird Swoops for Pretty Polly Win

Thistle Bird Swoops for Pretty Polly Win
Photo: Caroline Norris
Thistle Bird comes home strong to win the Pretty Polly Stakes.
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Thistle Bird struck for her first top-level win at age 6 when overtaking front-runner Venus de Milo in the final furlong to capture the Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-I) June 29 at the Curragh.
 
A homebred of Lady Rothschild, Thistle Bird was third entering the straight and ready to pounce after Venus de Milo dispatched last year's winner and pacesetter Ambivalent three furlongs out. Accelerating past Venus de Milo with an eighth of a mile to run, Thistle Bird rolled on to score by a convincing 2 3/4 lengths under George Baker. 
 
Thistle Bird covered 1 1/4 miles in 2:05.58 on firm turf. 
 
Thistle Bird started the season with a sixth to Ambivalent in the Middleton Stakes (Eng-II) May 15 at York but bounced back to take the Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-III) for the second straight year on Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) day June 6. She has won eight of 20 career starts and her record includes two placings in group I races last year: a second in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and a third in the Prix de l'Opera Longines at Longchamp. The Pretty Polly win marked her first victory beyond 1 1/8 miles.
 
"There's not many things trainers get lucky at, but for a mare of that age to win a group I is hugely satisfying," trainer Roger Charlton told England's Press Association.
 
"She traveled well and relaxed really well. She doesn't mind whether it's firm or heavy ground. She's tough and she's improving and it says a lot about keeping horses in training."
 
Charlton said there was a brief temptation to retire Thistle Bird after her runner-up effort in the Nassau.
 
"We were going to retire her after she finished second in a group I last year, but the owner didn't have any other horses with me, and I thought she could win good prizes," he said.
 
"We delayed putting her in foal and she's done it now.
 
"It's hard to say (where she will start next), but courses like Goodwood suit and she could go for the Nassau again." 
 
Venus de Milo, runner-up in last year's Darley Irish Oaks (gr. I) and successful in the Noblesse Stakes (Ire-III) at Cork June 15, outfinished 2013 Etihad Airways Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner Just The Judge by three-quarters of a length for second in the field of eight fillies and mares.
 
Ambivalent, the 15-8 favorite for a repeat victory, was hesitant to load into the gate but took control at the start pursued by Venus de Milo and gave way in the final quarter before losing third to Just the Judge in the last 150 yards. 
 
Bred in Great Britain by Lord Rothschild, Thistle Bird is by champion miler and top sire Selkirk, who died last year at age 25. She is out of the Marchand de Sable mare Dolma, a multiple stakes-winning sprinter who was group I-placed in France. 

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