Ghostwriter Heads to Longchamp for French Derby

Events at Epsom may hog the racing headlines this coming weekend, but the English Derby isn’t the only Classic on display. 24 hours after the likes of City Of Troy, Los Angeles, and Ambiente Friendly do battle over the famous twists and turns of the Surrey course, the focus switches to Chantilly, as the picturesque venue stages the Prix du Jockey Club – widely referred to as the French Derby.

Held over a slightly shorter trip than the Epsom equivalent at 1m2½f, this £1.3m contest is similarly restricted to three-year-old contenders and regularly attracts the best of the French middle-distance stars and a smattering of hopefuls from the leading British and Irish yards.

Clive Aiming For First Classic Success

Renowned for his prowess with sprinting stars, Lambourn-based Clive Coc has a clutch of Group 1 victories to his name, including the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes, Sprint Cup, Commonwealth Cup and two July Cups. Significantly regarding this week’s challenge, Cox has also tasted top-level success in France, having landed both the Prix de l’Abbaye and Prix Morny. Despite those headline victories, Cox remains without a Classic of any description.

Fourth in the Guineas, First in the (French) Derby?

Bidding to change all of that on Sunday afternoon is Ghostwriter, who made his seasonal return when posting a fine fourth-placed effort in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. That was a rock-solid performance, considering the son of Invincible Spirit clipped heels and stumbled soon after the start and struggled to maintain his rhythm through the dip, before finishing well. Switching to a flat track and moving up in trip, it is easy to be optimistic about his chances – particularly as the 2,000 Guineas form is already working out spectacularly well.

Four runners from the 2,000 Guineas have turned out again, and all have performed with credit. Second and third at Newmarket, the Richard Hannon duo of Rosallion and Haatem finished first and second in the Irish 2000. Sixth-placed Inisherin dropped in trip on his subsequent outing to easily land the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes, whilst Ten Bob Tony could manage only eighth at HQ but looked most unlucky to finish no closer than fourth in the German 2,000 Guineas on his most recent outing.

Diego Velazquez and Sunway Round out the British and Irish Team

Ghostwriter may boast solid claims on paper, but he isn’t the only runner from a British or Irish yard heading across the Channel with high hopes. Aidan O’Brien has a 2,000 Guineas fourth of his own in the shape of Deigo Velazquez, who caught the eye when running on into fourth in the French version of the race. A win for the Ballydoyle runner would go some way to paying off a chunk of his 2.4m Guineas tag.

At a mere €300,000, David Menusier’s Sunway wasn’t quite so costly but has already achieved plenty at the track – most notably when mastering the highly touted Alcantor in the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud last season. He hasn’t quite lived up to that level so far this term, but took a step back in the right direction with a close second in the Prix Greffulhe and looks like one of the more interesting contenders at a double-figure price.