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Special Features

The Prix Du Jockey Club – The Derbies Keep Coming On Sunday

Modern Games

The Epsom Derby is only one of two European derbies this weekend. The Prix Du Jockey Club takes place at Chantilly on Sunday, and we have had a look at the 15 runners alongside an excellent offer from the Paddy Power, offering up Money Back As Cash Up To £20 Bet.


Vadeni (Jean-Claude Rouget, Christophe Soumillon) 11/2

All four half-siblings have been at their best between 1m-1m2½f, so this race should be right in this horse’s sweet spot. Won twice at two, including in Listed company, but was overturned at odds-on in 1m1f Group 3 Prix de Conde at this track. Reappeared and only fifth to stablemate Welwal at Longchamp, but then took a stylish step forward back at this track, running on well.  This is his first Group 1 start, but a possible improver.

Al Hakeem (Jean-Claude Rouget, Cristian Demuro) 13/2

Gradually making his way through the ranks, having won three on the bounce at this track, the first two of which came on the all-weather. However, return to turf came at the start of last month in Listed race, when a rampant winner by four lengths over 1m2f. Extra 100 yards very unlikely to make an impact, as sustained a really strong finish throughout the final furlong last time. Stall 11 could make life difficult, but still drawn inside the favourite.


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Welwal (Jean-Cloude Rouget, Jean-Bernard Eyquem) 16/1

Another for this immensely successful yard, though probably the fourth string of four. Nevertheless, such is the stable’s dominance in this market, the favourite aside, that he should not be discounted. Theoretically, he is the speediest on sire’s side of five half-siblings who were best around 1m. Form prior to Poule D’Essai Des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) read 12121, including a Group 3 success at Longchamp. Respectable sixth in that Classic, but beaten three lengths by Modern Games and no obvious reason he will reverse the form.

Imperial Fighter (Andrew Balding, James Doyle) 16/1

Respectable efforts at two and still yet to be beaten over 2½ lengths in entire career. Only win came on debut, but placed twice in 7f-1m Group 3s, before close fifth in Group 1 Futurity Trophy at Doncaster. Unlucky on return in Listed company at Newcastle, then threatened to cause a big shock briefly in the Irish 2000 Guineas. Nevertheless, placed at a big price that day and clearly a consistent competitor. Lots of speed on the dam’s side, coupled with visual impression the last day, suggest stamina may be an issue here.


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Onesto (Fabrice Chappet, Stephane Pasquier) 11/1

Twice beaten by Welwal in his career, including when only eighth of ten on seasonal debut in April. Had previously won over 1m at Chantilly as a juvenile and may simply have been a slow-burner. Won a key trial for this in the Group 2 Prix Greffuhle at Saint-Cloud last month, surprising the short-priced favourite with a devastating late burst. Was always likely to improve for step up in trip being by Frankel and dam by Sea The Stars. Stall 14 is frustrating.

Mister Saint Paul (Etienne Leenders, Theo Bachelot) 50/1

Two wins in eight starts, with both successes coming at prices of 20/1 or bigger. Not averse to causing shocks in good company, as each victory was in a Pattern race. Seemingly put in place by Vadeni last time and good-to-soft ground would also ask a significant question, as formbook suggests he needs some cut.


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Modern Games (Charlie Appleby, William Buick) 2/1

In tremendous nick for powerful connections. Only won one of first three, but unstoppable since. Easy winner of Doncaster nursery before winning the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket. Drama before the start proved no boundary to success in the Breeders’ Cup when swooping to success in the Juvenile Turf at Del Mar. Kept fresh over the winter before justifying favouritism in the French 2000 Guineas three weeks ago. Did get a dream run that day, but finished off his race well and should stay this extra distance. Still very likely to challenge from stall 13.

The Acropolis (Aidan O’Brien, Frankie Dettori) 33/1

Spare ride for Frankie Dettori. Strike rate uninspiring with only one win in ten starts. Often found out in Group races last season, but nearly caused an upset on return in Listed company over 7f at Leopardstown. That suggested he had trained on well, but slow start in the French 2000 Guineas ensured he was too far back to challenge. Has stayed on well on last two starts, but questions posed by this extra quarter-mile and is difficult to fancy.


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El Bodegon (James Ferguson, Ioritz Mendizabal) 12/1

Only Group 1 winner in the field aside from Modern Games, as he won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a two-year-old. That backed up a Group 3 success at this track over 1m1f. Full brother to dolphin’s Best Solution, who was also surprisingly stamina-laden given their mutual pedigree. Unlike that sibling, however, James Ferguson’s charge did not look to have quickly trained on when well-beaten in the Dante at York recently. May need rain to be at his best and watchable for now, though jockey has won this the last twice.

Lassaut (Jean-Claude Rouget, Mickael Barzalona) 9/1

Final one of Rouget’s quartet. Only raced once at two, but did well to win first two races as a three-year-old. Both of those came over 1m and was quite well-fancied ahead of the French 2000 Guineas. Possibly did well to end up finishing fifth in that contest, as he looked like dropping right off the back end early on. Was maybe showing some inexperience still that day and step up to 1m2½f looks very appropriate on breeding and on the impression left that day. Big-race rider still seeking first win in this race.


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Machete (Fabrice Chappet, Gerald Mosse) 40/1

Has come on great guns from two-year-old season, striking at Deauville and Chantilly over 1m1f. Both were on the all-weather, the latter in a Listed race. Beaten more comfortably in Group races the last twice, though was a staying on second to Vadeni last time. Should take the step up in trip in his stride and may have more luck in running on this occasion. Veteran rider will need to use all his experience here, however.

Ancient Rome (Andre Fabre, Tom Marquand) 8/1

Stormed out the blocks at two, winning three in a row after debut defeat. Turned over as favourite for two Group 1s at the end of the season on heavy and very soft ground by Angel Bleu. Too keen on reappearance, but showed more like his juvenile self when fourth in the French 2000 Guineas. Looked briefly like fading away in that contest, but stayed on very stoutly late on, even closing on the winner Modern Games before the line. In with a really good shout here.


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Vagalame (Carlos Laffon-Parias, Maxime Guyon) 33/1

Got off the mark at the fifth attempt in April when first trying this trip of 1m2½f. Slight alarm in that being his first run away from Chantilly, as he met with defeat on all four starts there before a change of track at Saint-Cloud. Yet to run in anything like this company and has the worst draw.

Yoozuna (Christophe Ferland, Olivier Peslier) 33/1

Son of a Japanese Derby winner from the family of the great Deep Impact. Dam’s sire is Montjeu, so there is phenomenal talent and stamina in pedigree. Yet to reach that standard on the racecourse, though has won twice this term. Was most recently second at Chantilly at Listed level behind Al Hakeem. Unlikely to cause that rival any more problems in this, let alone the rest of the field.


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Ivy League (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore) 20/1

Trainer finally won this race last season with St Mark’s Basilica. Was a square peg in a round hole in the Irish 2000 Guineas in which yard would have otherwise had no runners. Only seventh there, as well as runner-up in Group company the time before, but step up in trip has always looked likely to help. Should at least improve for that, but whether he is Group 1 calibre remains to be seen.

Verdict

French 2000 Guineas hero Modern Games should be right there at the front end, but stall 13 is not friendly. Every winner since 106 has been drawn in stall seven or lower and that could serve to benefit ANCIENT ROME for Andre Fabre. Useful at two, he failed to reel in a very useful soft ground competitor on that kind of surface in two Group 1s. However, he was closing towards the end of the Prix D’Essai Des Poulains and he promises to be suited by this step up in trip on that evidence. Onesto and Al Hakeem are also drawn slightly wider, but both have a big chance on form.


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