Saturday, July 20, 2024

French Derby preview: Clive Cox happy with Ghostwriter’s draw for Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly -Dlight News

Clive Cox was “very happy and relieved” to avoid a wide draw with Ghostwriter in Sunday’s Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, live on Sky Sports Racing.

The son of Invincible Spirit carries rock-solid credentials into the French Derby after overcoming trouble in running to finish fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

That form has been franked by placed horses Rosallion and Haatem going on to dominate the Irish equivalent, while sixth-placed Inisherin dropped down in trip to secure an impressive success in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.

With Ghostwriter having prevailed over a mile as a juvenile in the Royal Lodge and then staying on strongly in the Guineas, a step up in distance looks sure to suit the Jeff Smith-owned colt.

Cox said: “We’re very pleased with the two stall. With 15 runners, we’re very happy with that. We don’t have to worry about being out wide now, so thank goodness. We’re very happy and that’s definitely a piece of the jigsaw that has been sorted out.

“He’s in very good shape and we’re looking forward to travelling over. I really think stepping up to 10 furlongs will be beneficial for him and the ground is the same for every horse.

“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.

“We’ve had a good week so far and at this time of year it’s pleasing with some very nice races coming up.

“Ghostwriter’s main target was the Guineas to begin with and he ran a super race to finish fourth. 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. It’s very pleasing to see that form look so solid.

“We’re looking forward to stepping up to a mile and a quarter, he’s out of a Champs Elysees mare and I very much believe that winning over a mile in the Royal Lodge last year gave us that confidence that with more strength we would be able to step up in trip.

“And after such a pleasing run in the Guineas, we’re really looking forward to it.”

Aidan O’Brien, who claimed this prize three years ago with St Mark’s Basilica, is also looking forward to trying Diego Velazquez over a longer trip.

The son of Frankel won the Group Two Golden Fleece Stakes over a mile at Leopardstown at two and was doing his best work at the business end when a close fourth in the French 2,000 Guineas first time out this term.

Diego Velazquez is the main Ballydoyle hope
Image:
Diego Velazquez will represent Aidan O’Brien in the French Derby

O’Brien said: “With Diego, 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.

“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 him. Everything has gone very well since the French Guineas, he came out of it very well.

“He stays and he’s uncomplicated. It was a very good run-out the last time, we were over the moon, and Christophe (Soumillon) was very happy with him as well.

“We definitely think he has plenty of class, especially for a mile-and-a-quarter horse.”

David Menuisier’s Sunway has been a beaten favourite in two starts this season but does have a Group One victory in France on his CV from last term, when upsetting the reopposing Alcantor in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on very soft ground.

“One day, he’ll show the same class in the afternoon as he does in the morning,” said Menuisier. “Sunway proved last year that he was a very good horse and has a big race in him.”

Fast Tracker is rated the leading home hope by bookmakers, with the Henri-Alex Pantall-trained son of Churchill having been snapped up by Wathnan Racing since scoring by a wide margin at Listed level over this course and distance.

James Doyle takes the ride and Pantall said: “Fast Tracker is a straightforward ride as he races handily, doesn’t pull and he’ll be able to adapt. He exhibits just one flaw in his racing style, as he takes time to pick up when the pace quickens.”

Look De Vega is unbeaten after two outings for Carlos and Yann Lerner, while Ace Impact’s half-brother Arrow Eagle represents last year’s winning combination of trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and jockey Cristian Demuro.

Rouget also saddles Wahdan and Grecian Storm as he bids to complete a hat-trick of Prix du Jockey Club triumphs.

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