Preview of the French Derby | Imperial Fighter ready for the Prix du Jockey Club battle
Andrew Balding’s Imperial Fighter will look for Classic honors again when he tries his luck in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday.
The colt was last seen finishing third in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in late May, coming home two and a half lengths behind Godolphin’s English Guineas runner-up Native Trail.
The French Derby represents a stage of travel for the bay son of The Gurkha, something Balding believes will benefit him as he travels a long distance of 10 furlongs for the first time.
“We think he ran very well in the Irish Guineas, it’s an encouraging performance from him,” Balding said.
“This race is a step up in the journey to a mile and a quarter, which we think will work out well.
“We’re really looking forward to directing it.”
Charlie Appleby’s Modern Games won the French Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, in his first start of the season and will represent the stable again and start his run from pit 13.
“Sunday is going to be an exciting day with the French Derby, Modern Games is heading there after winning in French Guinea,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.
“He’s a rock-solid little horse, he does nothing but try to please us at home and his preparation has gone really well.
“He passes a mile and a quarter and we’re sure that should be good in his compass, he’s a very genuine little horse.
“He goes there with a classic profile behind him.”
The British flag will also be flown by James Ferguson’s El Bodegon, who was a disappointment in the Dante on his seasonal debut after a two-year campaign in which he won Group One.
Aidan O’Brien is responsible for the two Irish-trained contenders, The Acropolis and Ivy League, ridden by Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore respectively.
The man on the spot
Modern Games arrives fresh from success in the French 2000 Guineas and should stay that far. He has beaten Acropolis, Ancient Rome, LAssault and Welwal at Longchamp and this last pair are two of the four runners representing Jean-Claude Rouget. Listed winner Al Hakeem and Group 3 winner Vadeni form the rest of the foursome. Ryan Moore moves from Acropolis to Ivy League but the latter finished behind IMPERIAL FIGHTER in the Irish 2000 Guineas. Andrew Balding’s charge finished a creditable third on this occasion and should do well at a price on this longer trip. El Bodegon must put a poor effort into the Dante at York behind him while Onesto is an unexposed Group 2 winner at Saint-Cloud.
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