Aidan O’Brien’s French 2,000 Guineas winner St Mark’s Basilica is favourite to win the Prix du Jockey Club and complete a French Classic double; watch the French Derby meeting at Chantilly live on Sky Sports Racing on Sunday from 12pm
St Mark’s Basilica will face 18 rivals when he bids for a French Classic double in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt, winner of last month’s French 2,000 Guineas on the first start of his three-year-old campaign at ParisLongchamp, is joined in Sunday’s field by stablemate Van Gogh.
The latter was a possible for the Derby at Epsom until O’Brien pared his team down to one, favourite Bolshoi Ballet, for Saturday’s premier British Classic.
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St Mark’s Basilica, who has been drawn in stall two, steps up beyond a mile for the first time this weekend, as does Ballydoyle’s apparent second string – last seen finishing third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
On St Mark’s Basilica, O’Brien said: “He’s been lovely since the Guineas. It was always the plan to go back to France for the French Derby so that’s where he is.
“We’re very happy with him and looking forward to seeing him run. He’s never run over that trip but we’re looking forward to seeing it.
“Van Gogh had a lovely run in the Irish Guineas and we felt he progressed nicely from his first run to his second. We’ve been very happy with him since, also.”
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Like O’Brien, John and Thady Gosden will be double-handed in the French Derby, over 10 and a half furlongs – with their Dante Stakes runner-up Megallan (Olivier Peslier) and impressive Newmarket novice winner Derab, who will be ridden by Martin Harley and is a half-brother to the mighty Enable. The yard was successful last year with the brilliant Mishriff.
Roger Varian also provides a British challenger in the shape of El Drama (Mickael Barzalona), following his surprise victory in the Dee Stakes at Chester.
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Among the home contingent, Jean-Claude Rouget has three contenders – dual Group Three winner Makaloun and unbeaten pair Saiydabad and Cheshire Academy. Makaloun and Cheshire Academy are drawn in stalls 18 and 19 respectively.
Frederic Rossi’s Sealiway, only eighth to St Mark’s Basilica at ParisLongchamp but a Group One-winning juvenile there, and Freddy Head’s Adhamo are others of note.