Almanzor: runs away with the French Derby
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tony McFadden 3:14PM 5 JUN 2016
Report: Chantilly, Sunday
Prix du Jockey Club (Group 1) 1m2½f, turf, 3y0 colts and fillies
JEAN-CLAUDE ROUGET won the Prix du Jockey Club for a second time, though not with the horse punters expected, as Almanzor produced a 20-1 shock to run out an authoritative winner of the French Derby.
Rouget’s best chance appeared to be with wide-margin Prix Hocquart winner Mekhtaal, who was sent off as the 9-2 favourite, but Almanzor proved himself to be the best horse on the day as he quickly settled matters with a good turn of foot.
Zarak, a son of the brilliant mare Zarkava, bounced back from a slightly disappointing fifth in the French 2,000 Guineas to chase Almanzor home in second for Saturday’s Ivestec Derby-winning owner the Aga Khan, while the supplemented Dicton completed a clean sweep for the home team in third.
There were six British or Irish-trained challengers but they could not make an impression as the domestic runners dominated. In fact, the overseas raiders filled six of the last seven places.
A delighted Rouget said: “I’ve always liked him and he was well drawn but you couldn’t say before he was among the favourites. It is wonderful for Jean-Bernard (jockey). To win races like this is why we all get up every morning.”
Almanzor was providing Jean-Claude Rouget with a second Classic success of the season, following on from La Cressonniere’s French 1,000 Guineas success. Like Almanzor, La Cressonniere had also been regarded as the trainer’s second-string.
The victory was a significant one for rider Jean-Bernard Eyquem, who last won a race at the highest level ten years ago with Tie Black in the French 1,000 Guineas.
Almanzor, who was providing sire Wootton Bassett with a first Group 1 winner, has been introduced into the market for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at 16-1 with Paddy Power.