FRENCH star-in-waiting Prince Gibraltar stands in front of The Grey Gatsby as Kevin Ryan’s colt pitches for Classic glory in tomorrow’s Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
Dante Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby is one of two British runners among a field of 16 but the home favourite has impressed on his last two starts.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s representative claimed Group One honours in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in November and returned to that Parisian course on his return this year as he took France’s top Derby trial, the Prix Greffulhe, in impressive fashion.
The globally-admired veteran Gerald Mosse is very excited about riding Prince Gibraltar for the first time. He said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for me as the horse is very good. I have not ridden the horse on the track, but from what I saw of him at Saint-Cloud he is a serious contender.
“The ground at the moment is soft, which would suit him, but I think he would also show a high level of form if it was good ground. I am very lucky to be able to come in and ride a horse as good as this. I hope I can carry on the miracle on Sunday.”
With no Sir Michael Stoute or Aidan O’Brien runners, Ryan Moore is able to renew his association with The Grey Gatsby from the Dante. “He’s in good form, he has a great draw [stall six] and he’s travelled over well,” said Ryan. “Prince Gibraltar looks a good horse, but it’s the French Derby – you’re going to have to take on good horses.”
There is one Classic winner in the field already, with Karakontie trained by the locally-based Englishman Jonathan Pease. A leading two-year-old who beat Noozhoh Canarias in the Lagardere on Arc day, Karakontie was beaten in his trial but held on bravely from the reopposing Prestige Vendome in the French Guineas.
Ayrad, the other British runner for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni, is taking an enormous rise in class after winning a maiden at Hamilton by four lengths.
Alain de Royer-Dupre has won the Jockey Club six times, largely for the Aga Khan, whose Shamkiyr must be worthy of respect as he collected a Saint-Cloud maiden by ten lengths.
No French Classic can take place without Andre Fabre, who runs both the Guineas fifth Galiway and Earnshaw, who was runner-up in the Greffulhe.
At Haydock today, Garswood should be given a chance to redeem himself as he tackles his optimum trip and ground in the Timeform Jury Stakes.
The four-year-old proved a touch below the best over a mile last year and was not quite speedy enough to mix it with the top sprinters over six furlongs.
Dropping back for this Group Three event, also known as the John Of Gaunt, seems the obvious options and there are some nice targets later in the year which could be on Garswood’s radar.
Cubanita was another who failed to stay when upped in trip to a mile and six furlongs at York but it is hard to go against her dropped back in distance for the Pinnacle Stakes.
Cap O’Rushes should feel the benefit of his recent reappearance run as he tackles the Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup at York, while Body And Soul found Group Two company beyond her at this track earlier in the month but should not be dismissed in the BetBright Trophy as she returns to handicap company.
Meanwhile, a millstone worth 2.5million guineas around the neck of Hydrogen proved too great for Peter Chapple-Hyam’s colt to carry at the first attempt as he finished an ordinary sixth behind Wonderstruck on his long-awaited racecourse debut in the Lloyds Bank Commercial Maiden Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Hydrogen (4-1) was starting off over a mile and a half on the July Course after suffering a series of hold-ups as a two-year-old and beyond.
Jamie Spencer dropped him out at the rear of the field and Hydrogen briefly flickered into life a couple of furlongs from home before his effort petered out.
Wonderstruck (11-4) was Frankie Dettori’s only ride on the card and built upon the promise she showed at Ascot three weeks earlier when third to the likely Oaks runner Marsh Daisy.