On The Look-Out For The Jockey Club Winner

Look De Vega | Scoop Dyga

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While it is true that there is only one Derby, and what a Derby that was on Saturday, 24 hours after the Epsom jamboree there is a Classic of a different kind to help ease the comedown. Chantilly hosts the 184th renewal of the G1 Qatar Prix du Jockey Club, which is a special if idiosyncratic monument in its own right staged over the rare trip of 10 1/2 furlongs. Therefore offering a contrasting test to the Blue Riband, the old “French Derby” is losing no ground on its counterpart if recent results are anything to go by. Ace Impact (Ire) (Cracksman {GB}) was the fifth straight winner out of the very top drawer 12 months ago, while the 2016 hero Almanzor (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) was another to make his mark on the elite stage following his exploits here.

At this stage, it is difficult to pinpoint a colt that could belong in that bracket, but there is always the prospect that one might spring forth, particularly among the unexposed. One who fits that bill and could be on a steep ascent is Haras de la Morsangliere's unbeaten Look De Vega (GB) by the 2010 winner Lope De Vega (Ire) whose own sire Shamardal won the first Jockey Club after the shift from its past mile-and-a-half distance. Steadily brought to a peak by Carlos and Yann Lerner, the relative of another winner of the race in its current guise in Lawman (Fr) gave some indication as to his raw material when winning ParisLongchamp's Prix de Croissy conditions event last month.

There is very little to go on in terms of form as to how he measures up, but he just looks a bit special. Yann Lerner took him to Chantilly for a recent gallop and said, “He adapted very well to the course and he proved inch-perfect when it came to negotiating the final uphill section of the course. We're aware of his considerable potential. My father was lucky enough to train Anabaa Blue and Volvoreta and I think he's in that league.”

“He shows a propensity for getting away well from the gates, has an excellent mindset and Ronan Thomas knows everything there is to know about the colt,” he added. “My father took a great liking to the colt at the sales and was very surprised to learn that he was a buy-back, so we made enquiries with the colt's breeders Joëlle Mestrallet and Lucien Urano. They retained a 50% stake in the colt, but we acquired a share and invited several of our owners to do the same.”

 

The Power Of The Guineas…

Not that City Of Troy was a big factor in the 2,000 Guineas, but his win on Saturday only adds to the growing sense that it was an above-average renewal of the Classic. Jeff Smith's Ghostwriter (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) was fourth at Newmarket and his trainer Clive Cox is relishing the opportunity of saddling a rare middle-distance Classic contender who is particularly favourably drawn in two. “We don't have to worry about being out wide now, so thank goodness,” he said. “He's only performed on a quicker surface, so that's a territory we're just going to have to find out about, but I'm confident with the way he moves that he'll handle himself on softer ground. Without a shadow of a doubt, the form of the Guineas is already showing how strong a Guineas it was. You have the first and second in the Irish Guineas and then the sixth horse winning the Sandy Lane.”

Ballydoyle have finally emerged front-and-centre and are represented here by Diego Velazquez (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), who is up to a more suitable trip having caught the eye when fourth in the G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains. “We felt a mile is as short as he wanted to go and we thought a mile and a quarter might be his ideal trip,” Aidan O'Brien said. “Obviously he could get further, but we always viewed him as a French Derby horse more than anything else. We thought and hoped Chantilly would suit. He stays and he's uncomplicated. We definitely think he has plenty of class, especially for a mile-and-a-quarter horse.”

 

Fast Track To Glory?

Wathnan Racing's Fast Tracker (GB) (Churchill {Ire}) is another well draw in five and one for the shortlist following his seven-length success in the track's Listed Prix de Suresnes which Ace Impact had won en route to glory here in 2023. Trainer Henri-Alex Pantall is happy that his colt is at his prime and suggested that he will need to be prominent from the outset on Sunday. “He has now reached maturity, he is a straightforward ride, races handily and doesn't pull,” he explained. “He exhibits just one flaw in his racing style, as he takes time to pick up when the pace quickens. He is pretty quick leaving the gates, but ideally we'd like to have two or three leaders in the race. He won't mind if the ground dries out, even if it that isn't expected to be the case.”

 

Will Menuisier Get His Day In The Sun?

Andre Fabre has a trio engaged, with the form choice undoubtedly Baron Edouard De Rothschild's TDN Rising Star Alcantor (Fr) (New Bay {GB}) who was ahead of Diego Velazquez when third in the Poulains. He was second to Guy Pariente, Thomas Lines and Qatar Racing's Sunway (Fr) (Galiway {GB}) in the G1 Criterium International and to say that the latter's trainer David Menuisier has been knocking on the door in the 2024 Classics is an understatement. “He's a machine. One day, he'll show the same class in the afternoon as he does in the morning,” Menuisier said. “Sunway proved last year that he was a very good horse and has a big race in him. In my opinion, Sunway is a bit like a gifted child. Sometimes it's the brightest kids who flunk their exams. In his two outings this year, he was ridden aggressively and maybe it wasn't the right thing to do–maybe he'll be better being held up rather than racing from the front.”

 

The Support Acts…

Chantilly's black-type action begins with the Listed Prix la Fleche for the 2-year-olds, where Haras d'Etreham's first-crop sire Hello Youmzain (Fr) is represented by the course-and-distance winner Allee De Bercy (Fr), continues with the G2 Prix du Gros-Chene where the super-charged Ponntos (Ire) (Power {GB}) takes centre stage, while the three other pattern races include an open-looking G2 Grand Prix de Chantilly boasting the dual Group 1 winner Dubai Honour (Ire) (Pride Of Dubai {Aus}). At Baden-Baden, the G2 Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft sees TDN Rising Star Mr Hollywood (Ire) (Iquitos {Ger}) look to bounce back from his abject seasonal bow when a distant fourth to the re-opposing Lordano (Ger) (Adlerflug {Ger}) in Cologne's G2 Carl Jaspers Preis.

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