Lemaire ready to rock at Chantilly

CHRISTOPHE Lemaire will have one eye on Natagora when he teams up with High Rock in the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly tomorrow.

The 29-year-old has had to desert the Pascal Bary-trained filly on whom he won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket four weeks ago as he is claimed to ride High Rock for Jean-Claude Rouget.

Lemaire was impressed when partnering High Rock to his latest victory at Longchamp and has high hopes of winning his first French Derby.

“His last race was very good. He was fresh and showed a very good turn of foot and won brilliantly,” said the jockey.

“I think he will come to the race in very good form. He is full of ability and we expect him to run a very good race.”

However, Lemaire gives Natagora the utmost respect and believes she has “the best form in the race”.

He added: “She won over seven furlongs, then the mile and I think the trip won’t be a problem for her.

“The only thing is that everybody knows her now and there will be 20 runners in the race.

“Maybe she won’t be able to control the race as she would like, but she can sit just behind the leaders and she knows everything about her job.

“She’s a very easy filly to ride and for me she has one of the best chances in the race. Of course she will be a big danger and she has the best form in the race. Frankie will be on board which will be a big plus.”

Dettori came in for the plum ride as Godolphin’s Ibn Khaldun was scratched after the horse was found to be lame yesterday morning.

Dettori is seeking his fourth Jockey-Club after wins on Polytain (1992), Shamardal (2005) and Lawman 12 months ago.

No filly has won the race since La Moriniere in 1900, but very few have taken part, the last being Moonlight Dance in 1994 while Bella Paola finished second 50 years ago.

However, these statistics have failed to put off Natagora’s connections. “Our filly is 100%. No filly has won the race for over 100 years so it’s hard to be confident but we are optimistic,” said owner Stefan Friborg’s racing manager Patrick Barbe.

“She looks very well, appears to be in very good form and if she gets a mile and a quarter she will run very well.”

Conditions should be more suitable for Famous Name, who missed the Irish 2000 Guineas last weekend because the ground was too fast.

“The ground will probably be good and shouldn’t worry us,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah. “We hope he’s got a chance.”

Dermot Weld’s charge, won the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial on his seasonal debut.

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