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Prix du Jockey Club Preview: New Bay can strike again for Fabre
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Prix du Jockey Club Preview: New Bay can strike again for Fabre

John Ingles looks at Sunday's French Derby where he likes the look of the Poulains second New Bay.

The Grey Gatsby won last year’s Prix du Jockey Club after landing the Dante Stakes but there’ll be no repeat success for a British stable in Sunday’s race at Chantilly. The ‘French Derby’ had been the original target for the latest Dante winner Golden Horn but such was the manner of his victory at York that he’s to be supplemented for Epsom instead. A field of fourteen has been declared, with overseas interest consisting of the Aidan O’Brien trio of Highland Reel, Cape Clear Island and War Envoy.

All three need to improve to have their say, especially the last-named, though Joseph O’Brien’s mount Highland Reel is entitled to have come on from his sixth place in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (more of which below) which was his first start since winning the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last summer. Cape Clear Island, partnered by Ryan Moore, has had more chances but is proven at around this trip and ran his best race when second in the Prix Hocquart at Longchamp last time.

However, they are up against some potentially high-class French colts and the one who has made the best visual impression in the dedicated trials is Karaktar. Owned by the Aga Khan, he bids to give his trainer Alain de Royer Dupre a fourth win in the race this century. Karaktar was beaten in two of his three starts last season but was always bred to shine over longer trips and has won his two starts easily this year over the same distance as the Jockey Club. After winning a listed race at Saint-Cloud by seven lengths on soft ground on his reappearance, he gained a stylish success under firmer conditions in the Prix Noailles at Longchamp from High Dynamite who takes him on again here.

The other trial winner with the best form is the unbeaten Prix La Force winner Silverwave. He too was a clear-cut winner at Longchamp, his first start outside the Provinces, though that was on soft ground and he had the race set up for him to some extent by odds-on favourite Epicuris going off too fast in front. Back in third that day was the British-trained colt Medrano, subsequently third in the Chester Vase, who had previously been beaten a similar distance behind Karaktar at Saint-Cloud.

Sumbal, who may yet wait for Epsom instead in the hope of more suitable ground, is another unbeaten trial winner. However, he was left with just two inferior rivals to beat in the Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud when Epicuris refused to enter the stalls. Sumbal won readily in the manner of a smart colt, but all three of his races have been on soft ground and he’ll face firmer conditions if allowed to take his chance on Sunday.

War Dispatch has had more racing than the other trial winners, most of it on all-weather tracks in the autumn and winter, but has thrived and completed a six-timer on his turf debut in the Prix de Guiche at Chantilly in May when returning from a break. He’s evidently still on the up, though those mentioned above look to have a greater margin for improvement. Mostaneer’s only defeat in four starts was a narrow one, but this will be a big step up in class after a head victory over Kahouanne in a steadily-run listed contest at Maisons-Laffitte in April. Piment Rouge is also a listed winner, beating High Dynamite at Saint-Cloud back in March, though he’s had his limitations exposed since behind both Silverwave and War Dispatch.

Now that the Prix du Jockey Club is run over an extended ten furlongs, rather than the classic Derby distance of a mile and a half, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains often throws up a live contender or two in addition to the traditional trial races. Andre Fabre trained the last colt to win both classics, Lope de Vega in 2010, and was also responsible for the 2013 Prix du Jockey Club winner Intello who had previously finished an unlucky third in the Poulains. Intello had been undone by a wide draw at Longchamp, and it must have been a case of déjà vu for the trainer with runner-up New Bay in the latest Poulains. Turning for home at the rear of the big field, New Bay powered home wide but too late to catch his stable-companion Make Believe who was able to make all from his draw near the rail. Eclipse entry New Bay is by Dubawi out of a useful miler, but there’s enough stamina in his top Juddmonte family to think he’ll stay the Jockey Club trip, as well as certainly shaping that way with his strong finish at Longchamp, and he gets the nod ahead of Karaktar.

Recommendation:

Back New Bay in the Prix du Jockey Club

Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:

134p      New Bay

128p      Karaktar

127p      Silverwave

124p      War Dispatch

124p      Sumbal

 
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