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Thistle Bird can swoop to Middleton success

A cracking renewal of the Middleton Stakes at York today (2.15), amd Thistle Bird looks to have plenty in her favour to make a winning reapperance.

The Roger Charlton trained mare won three Listed races in 2012, and looked better still last season when winning a Group 3 contest and performing well at the highest level.

The six-year-old showed a smart turn of foot to beat Gifted Girl by 3/4 of a length in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom, and went on to finish an excellent neck second to Winsili in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Newmarket.

The daughter of Selkirk also put in a cracking effort on her final start when beaten just a 1/4 of a length into third behind Dalkala in the Group 1 Prix De L’Opera at Longchamp.

That form just about sets the standard in this race, and Thistle Bird’s official rating of 114 puts her 4lb and upawards clear of her rivals.

Other pluses are that Thistle Bird also has a good record fresh, handles the ground, and the services of Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

The two main dangers to Thistle Bird could well be Ambivalent and Secret Gesture.

The former is a quirky sort who won a Group 1 in Ireland last season when given a terrific ride from the front.

The Roger Varian trained five-year-old went on to finish an excellent third in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan, and a repeat of those efforts would put the daughter of Authorised firmly in the mix.

Secret Gesture ran out the impressive 10 length winner of the Lingfield Oaks’ Trial on her return to action last season, before finishing runner-up in the big race itself at Epsom.

The daughter of Galileo then went down by just a nose in the German Oaks, before disappointing on her final two starts.

In the last of those, the Ralph Beckett trained mare finished behind Thistle Bird when trailing in last in the Prix De L’Opera.

There is no real reason why that form should be reversed, and this afternoon’s 1m 2f trip may well prove on the sharp side for Secret Gesture.