FRENCH star-in-waiting Prince Gibraltar stands in front of Dante winner The Grey Gatsby as Kevin Ryan’s colt pitches for Classic glory in tomorrow’s Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s representative claimed Group One honours in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in November and returned to that Parisian course on his return in 2014 as he took France’s top Derby trial, the Prix Greffulhe, in impressive fashion.
The globally-admired veteran Gerald Mosse is very excited about riding Prince Gibraltar for the first time in the French Derby. “He is a serious contender,” said the jockey.
However The Grey Gatsby should not be dismissed. He started his season chasing Toormore home in the Craven Stakes before finishing 10th in the 2000 Guineas – a creditable performance given how the form has been franked subsequently. But he then tasted his biggest success to date when tackling another couple of furlongs on the Knavesmire to land the Betfred Dante Stakes for the in-form Hambleton yard.
With no Sir Michael Stoute or Aidan O’Brien runners, Ryan Moore – the three-times champion jockey – is able to continue his association from the Dante. “He’s in good form, he has a great draw (stall six) and he’s travelled over well,” said Ryan. “Prince Gibraltar looks a good horse, but it’s the French Derby – you’re going to have to take on good horses.”
Unlike Ann Duffield’s Willie The Whipper who could not recover from an unfavourable draw on the outer last year, The Grey Gatsby’s draw in the middle of the field could have been worse.
He will start alongside Ayrad who is taking an enormous rise in class after winning a maiden at Hamilton by four lengths.
Trained by Roger Varian and ridden by Andrea Atzeni, the team dreaming of Epsom Derby glory in seven days time with Doncaster winner Kingston Hill, Tony Nerses, racing manager for owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, offered this assessment of their chances: “We are going into the deep end but sometimes you have to go to the deep end to find out whether you sink or swim.”