Gatsby striving to rock Gibraltar

French star-in-waiting Prince Gibraltar stands in front of The Grey Gatsby as Kevin Ryan’s colt pitches for Classic glory in tomorrow’s Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

Gatsby striving to rock Gibraltar

Dante Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby is one of two British runners among a field of 16 but the home favourite has impressed on his last two starts.

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.

He said: “This is wonderful opportunity for me as the horse is very good.

“I have not ridden the horse on the track, but from what I saw of him at Saint-Cloud he is a serious contender.

“The ground at the moment is soft, which would suit him, but I think he would also show a high level of form if it was good ground.

“I am very lucky to be able to come in and ride a horse as good as this. I hope I can carry on the miracle on Sunday.”

The Grey Gatsby started off his season chasing Toormore home in the Craven Stakes and did not take much of a step forward when 10th in the 2000 Guineas.

But he then tasted his biggest success to date when tackling another couple of furlongs on the Knavesmire.

With no Michael Stoute or Aidan O’Brien runners, Ryan Moore is able to renew 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.”

There is one Classic winner in the field already, with Karakontie trained by the locally-based Englishman Jonathan Pease.

A leading two-year-old who beat Noozhoh Canarias in the Lagardere on Arc day, Karakontie was beaten in his trial but held on bravely from the reopposing Prestige Vendome in the French Guineas.

Pease had also been considering the Investec Derby, but said: “He is set to run, and the ground will be fine for him, I think.

“The horse has had a good week and we hope we have made the right decision (to stay in France rather than come to Epsom).

“We just decided that as he’d only ever run over mile it would be too much for him over a mile and a half at this stage of his career.”

Nicolas Clement is certainly worried about Prestige Vendome staying the mile and a quarter.

“It is a big day for him and we are very happy,” he said.

“He did a nice bit of work at the track on Saturday and we think that has set him up for the French Derby.

“We have had a quite a bit of rain, but it should be drying to good to soft by the weekend. That will be no trouble.

“The only question we have is if he will stay. We are taking a bit of a gamble on his breeding, but he was catching Karakontie all the time so that gives us a lot of hope.

“He is a fighter and we deserve to give him a chance to see how good he is.”

Clement has not ruled out a quick return, and said: “We have left him in the St James’s Palace. That might be a bit greedy as it is just over two weeks after the French Derby, but you never know.”

Ayrad, the other British runner for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni, is taking an enormous rise in class after winning a maiden at Hamilton by four lengths.

Tony Nerses, racing manager for owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, said: “We gave Ayrad a racecourse gallop about a week ago at Sandown.

“He worked very well. He’s always been highly thought of, with a lot of ability.

“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.

“The way the ground is would be perfect and Andrea is always good in the big races.”

Alain de Royer-Dupre has won the Jockey Club six times, largely for the Aga Khan, whose Sea The Stars colt Shamkiyr must be worthy of respect as he collected a Saint-Cloud maiden by 10 lengths.

Christophe Soumillon, who rode Prince Gibraltar last time, is in the plate.

The owner’s racing manager Georges Rimaud said: “Everything has gone to plan. He worked on Wednesday morning and did a nice piece of work which left us very pleased.

“The weather is good, which is nice as we want the ground to be fair for all of the horses.

“This is a big step up – there are some serious horses in the race – but we think he is improving all the time.”

No French Classic can take place without Andre Fabre, who runs both the Guineas fifth Galiway and Earnshaw, who was runner-up in the Greffulhe.

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