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Joshua Tree ready to thwart Carmody's Diamond raider

tommy carmody's Royal Diamond is the sole Irish-trained runner on the final leg of what has been a relatively fruitless Dante Festival for the raiders at York.

The much-improved seven-year-old signed off on 2012 with an unlikely Irish St Leger win, having previously been cruelly denied at the death in the Knavesmire's Ebor.

On the second of two outings at Meydan in March, he wasn't disgraced behind St Nicholas Abbey in Dubai's Sheema Classic, so he has as much right as any of today's nine Group Two hopefuls to be considered a live contender.

That said, on the balance of form Niall McCullagh's mount hasn't achieved quite as much as some of these, with Cavalryman and Joshua Tree possibly the two with the best prospects. Godolphin's Cavalryman won the Listed Grand Cup over course and distance last year, and comes here on the back of a ready victory in a Meydan Group Three.

He is probably the one to beat, but there isn't much juice in his market-leading price of around 2/1. At up to 9/2, Joshua Tree, formerly of Ballydoyle, is better value.

Ed Dunlop's six-year-old landed the Group One Canadian International over 12 furlongs in the autumn. He has a touch of class, and his few attempts over extended trips have also been encouraging.

Second to Opinion Poll over two miles in Dubai last year, he won a French Group Two on his latest try at this sort of distance in August. The son of Montjeu reappears now for a first time since being beaten just over four lengths in the Hong Kong Vase in December and, with Dunlop's team in excellent form, he will go close for Ryan Moore.

Moore is also taken to secure the Listed fillies' race over a mile on Michael Stoute's Pavlosk. Successful on her sole previous outing in a Newbury maiden last month, Khalid Abdullah's well-bred daughter of Arch is the least experienced on duty here.

However, she made a good impression in slow ground over seven furlongs on that occasion, responding gamely to Moore's urgings to pull a length clear at the line. Pavlosk will need to step up on that display if she is to follow up, but she has the scope to do so, and the extra furlong is likely to aid her.

Earlier, Brockwell might be worth an each-way venture at double-figure odds in the Betfred Jorvik Handicap. This 12-furlong affair is wide open, but Tom Dascombe's four-year-old caught the eye on his Epsom reappearance three weeks ago when keeping on at one pace to finish eighth of 10.

A three-time winner in 2012, he is a pound lower now. As a ground-versatile and game sort, Richard Kingscote's mount should improve enough to get in the shake-up.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent