/ Racing

Prince Gibraltar heads Prix du Jockey Club field

Updated: Sunday, 01 Jun 2014 15:41 | Comments

Intello was an ultra-impressive winner of last year's renewal of the Prix du Jockey Club
Intello was an ultra-impressive winner of last year's renewal of the Prix du Jockey Club

Rising French star Prince Gibraltar faces 15 rivals in Sunday's Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

Kevin Ryan’s Dante Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby is one of two British runners in the field 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 scored on his season reappearance at the Parisian course earlier this month when he took the Prix Greffulhe in impressive fashion.

Christophe Soumillon, who partnered the son of Rock Of Gibraltar on his last two starts, is unable to take the mount due to his retainer with the Aga Khan.

Gerald Mosse has been booked to take the ride and the veteran pilot 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."

The Grey Gatsby started off his season chasing Toormore home in the Craven Stakes and did not take much of a step forward when 10th in the 2000 Guineas.

But he then tasted his biggest success to date when tackling another couple of furlongs on the Knavesmire.

With no Michael Stoute or Aidan O'Brien runners, Ryan Moore is able to renew his association 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 in the form of Karakontie, trained by 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.

Pease had also been considering the Investec Derby, but said: "He is set to run, and the ground will be fine for him, I think.

"The horse has had a good week and we hope we have made the right decision (to stay in France rather than come to Epsom).

"We just decided that as he'd only ever run over mile it would be too much for him over a mile and a half at this stage of his career."

Nicolas Clement is certainly worried about Prestige Vendome staying the mile and a quarter.

"It is a big day for him and we are very happy," he said.

"He did a nice bit of work at the track on Saturday and we think that has set him up for the French Derby.

"We have had a quite a bit of rain, but it should be drying to good to soft by the weekend. That will be no trouble.

"The only question we have is if he will stay. We are taking a bit of a gamble on his breeding, but he was catching Karakontie all the time so that gives us a lot of hope.

"He is a fighter and we deserve to give him a chance to see how good he is."

Clement has not ruled out a quick return, and said: "We have left him in the St James's Palace. That might be a bit greedy as it is just over two weeks after the French Derby, but you never know."

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 Sea The Stars colt Shamkiyr must be worthy of respect as he collected a Saint-Cloud maiden by 10 lengths.

The owner's racing manager Georges Rimaud said: "Everything has gone to plan. He worked on Wednesday morning and did a nice piece of work which left us very pleased.

"The weather is good, which is nice as we want the ground to be fair for all of the horses.

"This is a big step up - there are some serious horses in the race - but we think he is improving all the time."

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.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Live!
Powered by NewsWhip