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French Derby weekend always seems to signify the start of the summer here in Chantilly, but things have been a little different this week, due to the adverse weather conditions. Living less than 2kms from Chantilly Racecourse, I can confirm that once the stalls open for Sunday’s €1.5 million Prix du Jockey Club the ground will be closer to Heavy than Good – we had 35mm of rain on Thursday night alone!
There are a few confirmed mud larks across the card (especially my NAP) and in the 19-runner Jockey Club, there is one that really catches my eye.
Two certain gentlemen who will have been rather pleased to have witnessed such incredible storms in Chantilly this week are trainer Francis Henri Graffard and jockey Olivier Peslier. The pair combine once again on Sunday as Peslier (who is proving an adequate substitute for the suspended Pierre Charles Boudot) gets the leg up onto IN SWOOP in the Group Two Grand Prix de Chantilly.
Second in last season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, In Swoop was beaten on his return to action by Sublimis (who he faces again here) under gentle handling and quickly turned the tables with the Godolphin rival on his second start of the year, in much softer conditions.
An out-and-out stayer and a true mud-lover, In Swoop – who has been found the perfect engagement here by Graffard – should have no problem taking this event before possibly having another go at Group One level and ultimately, another tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
He has an excellent record in the race, having won three of the last five runnings of the prestigious Prix du Jockey Club and Deauville-based trainer Jean Claude Rouget is triple-handed in this weekend’s feature. The Aga Khan-owned and bred MAKALOUN looks the number one choice based on jockey bookings and made an excellent return to action at this course last month.
A son of Bated Breath, Makaloun has unfortunately been drawn in stall 18 and will more than likely be dropped right in. He should not be inconvenienced by the testing conditions, having previously won on heavy ground, although he will need plenty of luck in running. In 2019, Makaloun’s stable companion won this race from a very wide draw, although he was helped by a very aggressive pace.
She ticks almost all the boxes – trainer in form, bottom weight, won over the same distance, top handicap jockey – so I believe that OLYMPIE is one of the best each-way bets I have seen for a while. The daughter of Olympic Glory has not been seen on a racecourse since March (second on handicap debut), but it is interesting to note that connections have decided to declare the four-year-old for this extremely competitive handicap, despite having held numerous entries throughout recent weeks.
Drawn in stall 13, Olympie will have to be played late by jockey Stephane Pasquier, but the filly possesses some strong closing speed and is perfectly suited by the distance of 2,400m. Trainer Jerome Renyier was in scintillating at ParisLongchamp last Sunday and although the southern trainer lacks the same ammunition this weekend, he certainly has a card to play with the progressive Olympie.
Fellow Irishman and Chantilly resident, trainer Gavin Hernon has had his string in excellent order of late and presents GOLDINO BELLO for the final race on the card, an amateur rider’s sprint. The five-year-old son of Anodin scored over the same course and distance around this time last year and takes a marked drop in class here.
Upcoming young trainer Hernon has secured the services of the leading flat gentleman rider in France, Guilian Bertrand for Goldino Bello, who looks extremely well placed for this 1,200m sprint (carrying less weight than some inferior rated rivals). A horse that is proven to go well fresh and is versatile in terms of underfoot conditions, Goldino Bello should go close in the final race on the card. Although, he could face a strong challenge from the equally well-weighted Gypsy Whisper.
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