Dunlop dreaming of glory in wide-open French Derby

Robin Of Navan

Robin Of Navan: the Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner bids for Classic win

  PICTURE: ScoopDyga  

 By Scott Burton 7:59AM 5 JUN 2016 

Preview: France, Sunday
Chantilly: Prix du Jockey Club (Group 1)
1m2½f, 3yo colts & fillies

ROBIN OF NAVAN may be trained in Lambourn but Harry Dunlop’s stable star has made all but one of his seven career starts in France and aims to follow the likes of Darshaan and Fame And Glory, both of whom won major European Derbys after landing the Criterium de Saint-Cloud at two.


The Jockey Club has long been his major target, a comment that also applies to Foundation, who was third in the Dante for John Gosden.

“The rain is a big help for us and the twice he has been beaten was on fast ground,” said Dunlop. “The Greffulhe seems to have sharpened him up physically and mentally and we learnt a lot about him in that race. There are plenty of unexposed horses in there and we will probably need to improve again.”

Storm brewing

Neither Bravery nor Black Sea appear to be near the very top of the Ballydoyle pecking order, as Aidan O’Brien looks to go one better than with Highland Reel 12 months ago.

Ventura Storm has seven and a half lengths to find with Prix Hocquart winner Mekhtaal and connections must hope the soft ground will play more to their strengths than those of the likely local favourite.

Tim Palin, syndicate manager of Middleham Park Racing, owners of Ventura Storm, said: “We think he’s been a little unlucky on all three of his trips abroad as he’s had good ground and a poor draw on each occasion. We’re drawn a lot better today, he’ll love the ground and he’ll definitely see out the trip.”

Charlton bidding for second win

Mekhtaal’s trainer Jean-Claude Rouget is also responsible for another of the major trial winners in Almanzor, while Freddy Head goes in search of a first win in the race as a trainer with Raseed.

Zarkava’s son Zarak lost his unbeaten record in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains but had given the impression, even before his defeat at Deauville, that his future lay over middle distances.

Dicton was a staying-on third in the Poulains and has been supplemented at a cost of €72,000, while Imperial Aviator was also added to the field on Thursday by Roger Charlton, whose only previous runner in the Jockey Club, Sanglamore, struck in 1990.

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