When the dust begins to settle at Epsom on Saturday after another scintillating renewal of the Epsom Derby, attention will turn to Chantilly, as France plays host to their version of the Derby, the Prix du Jockey Club. A potential star lies in wait for Andre Fabre, but he faces his sternest test yet with the British challengers amassing in opposition. For the best of British, check out our horse racing tips now!
The undisputed King of France this term has been Andre Fabre’s Persian King, who has been scintillating in landing both the Prix de Fontainbleau and latterly, the French 2000 Guineas. Despite concerns on the heavy ground, he glided through the mud to score and an extra two furlongs on the back of that are no concern. He’s the one they all have to beat, but he didn’t look unbeatable on his latest start.
The last British horse to win the French Derby was The Grey Gatsby in 2014 and prior to that, you’re looking back all the way to 2005 in the form of Sharmardal. Raise You heads the British charge in terms of the market, winning both his starts since debut for Andrew Balding. He was a dominant winner of a Listed race at Newmarket on his latest outing and he’s a surefire improver for top connections.
Roger Varian’s Surfman has improved on the figures with each of his four starts, finishing third in the Dante behind Epsom Derby hopeful Telecaster. That form could receive a huge boost if that horse runs a cracker in that race and he’s a useful prospect. That said, the run did suggest he was crying out for even further and he may lack the raw speed to cope at this trip with Persian King.
Aidan O’Brien will be looking to land his first French Derby on Sunday and Cape Of Good Hope looks like his biggest chance. His return win in Listed company was a fair effort, though that form hasn’t worked out since with the second being safely held subsequently. He’s with the right connections to keep on improving and is the choice of Ryan Moore, so he has an each-way squeak.
Mohawk is the other Irish challenger, second to Circus Maximus at Chester in a Listed race over ten furlongs on return. He shaped well that day and he found the mile too sharp in the Irish 2000 Guineas last weekend. He should be much more at home with this test, but this is a very quick turnaround and he’s drawn stall 15.
My pick for the French Derby, however, goes the way of John Gosden’s KICK ON. He shaped extremely well as a juvenile and made a gutsy return when landing a Listed race at Newmarket. He found the trip too sharp in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket but still kept on well to finish a close-up seventh. He should relish this step up to ten furlongs and it should produce marked improvement. With that expected, he can more than out-run his lofty odds of 12/1!