Grey Gatsby shines in French Derby

KEVIN Ryan’s decision to bypass Epsom was rewarded when Dante hero The Grey Gatsby won the French Derby yesterday thanks to a blistering burst of speed.

The Grey Gatsby and Ryan Moore repeated their success in York's Dante Stakes, seen above, in Sunday's French Derby.

A first Classic victory for the in-form Hambleton trainer, the grey was the beneficiary of a masterful ride by three-times champion jockey Ryan Moore and is the first Yorkshire horse to win the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

The horse – inspired by The Great Gatsby, the 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald – will have a well-deserved break while connections study the entry book, York’s Juddmonte International and then a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most prestigious race, are probable targets.

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The 20-1 sixth favourite, The Grey Gatsby appeared to have an unfavourable position trapped on the inside running rail before Moore threaded his charge through the field.

In contrast to the luckless home favourite Prince Gibraltar, the gaps opened for Moore’s mount in the home straight and the victor burst clear to record the quickest winning time for the Classic since it reverted back to 10 furlongs nine months ago.

This trip vindicated Ryan’s decision to miss the Epsom Derby which is run over an additional two furlongs.

He said: “We always thought he was a good horse and after the Dante, Ryan thought that the French Derby would be the right race for him.

“I don’t think he got the credit he deserved after the Dante Stakes. Obviously it’s great to win a French Classic.

“He will have a break now for a couple of weeks and then there would be the Juddmonte International to consider.”

Asked if he thought he would stay further, in time, Ryan said: “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t stay. He doesn’t have an entry in the Arc, but yes, we would consider supplementing him.”

Typically, Moore made the race sound so straight-forward.

“It was a bit messy early on with everyone trying to get off the rail and I actually went back to the rail,” he said.

“Once he got his position he found his rhythm and when we got into the straight I thought he would win.

“He showed a good turn of foot.”

Owner Frank Gillespie was overwhelmed and said: “It’s great to win this race.

“I have about six horses in training with Kevin... I think I would like to go to York with him next.”

Four other observations should be made. First The Grey Gatsby’s win boosts the form of Racing Post Trophy winner Kingston Hill ahead of Saturday’s Investec Derby – the Yorkshire horse was a well-beaten seventh behind the Roger Varian-trained Derby third favourite on Town Moor last October.

Second, the win is another boost to the Betfred Dante’s status as the premier Derby trial, even more so after some form experts queried the form when The Grey Gatsby survived a stewards’ inquiry after veering right.

Third, The Grey Gatsby is ridden at home by Ryan’s daughter Amy, the 2012 champion apprentice, who suffered a horrendous fall at York last summer. Her role is key.

Fourth, Ryan stands by his assertion that star sprinter Hot Streak is still his “best horse” ever after winning at Haydock just over a weekend ago.

It speaks volumes about this horse’s chances in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Peter Niven’s Clever Cookie will miss the Ebor after dead-heating with Irish raider Ralston Road in the Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup at York.

“Graham (Lee, jockey) said he emptied out two out so he did well to dead-heat,” said the Malton trainer.

“He’s probably not got the trip. We might come back here for the John Smith’s Cup.”

Nawton trainer David O’Meara enjoyed a four-timer across the country headed by York specialist Dutch Rose and stable stalwart Penitent returned to winning ways at Haydock under The Yorkshire Post’s columnist Danny Tudhope.