Prix Du Jockey Club 2012 Preview

The format of the race was inspired by the English Derby, and it was named in homage to the Jockey Club based at Newmarket in England. It was established in 1836, and it was originally restricted to horses born and bred in France. Its distance was initially 2,500 metres, and this was cut to 2,400 metres in 1843. It was switched to Versailles during the Revolution of 1848, and it was cancelled due to the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.

The race was abandoned in 1915, and for three years thereafter it was replaced by the Prix des Trois Ans. This took place at Moulins in 1916, Chantilly in 1917 and Maisons-Laffitte in 1918. The first two running’s after World War I were held at Longchamp.

A substitute race called the Prix de Chantilly was run at Auteuil over 2,600 metres in 1940. The Prix du Jockey Club was staged at Longchamp in 1941 and 1942, and at Le Tremblay over 2,300 metres in 1943 and 1944. It returned to Longchamp for the following three years, and on the second occasion it was opened to foreign participants.

The present system of race grading was introduced in 1971, and the Prix du Jockey Club was classed at the highest level, Group 1. The first foreign-trained horse to win was Assert in 1982. The distance was shortened to 2,100 metres in 2005.

Nine winners of the Prix du Jockey Club have subsequently won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The first was Ksar in 1921, and the most recent was Dalakhani in 2003.*

[frame_right src=”” href=”#”]Albion[/frame_right]ALBION – A lovely big son of With Approval who looks to have progressed nicely as a three-year-old after a ‘nothing special’ juvenile campaign. He picked up a narrow verdict over Lunayir on his comeback run, and improved rapidly on that success with a close second to Kesampour at Saint-Cloud on his most recent effort. It was noticeable throughout his most recent race how well he travelled just in-behind Kesampour but his jockey was unsure whether to try and edge out around Kesampour (he was blocked in by Saonois) and opted to go for a gap up the inside by the weakening pacemaker. Albion stuck on well inside the final furlong, changing his legs half a furlong out and battled all the way to the line with Kesampour. It is difficult to tell whether he would have run down Kesampour had he got the gap to the inside, or whether Kesampour was just idling in-front and holding Albion all the way to the line? Frankie Dettori replaces a jockey I’ve never heard of which has to be a positive and he is an absolutely huge price at 20-1.

AMARON – Enjoyed pretty much a trouble free run in the Poulains and didn’t really have any excuses in finishing fourth. This requires another step up and although he has won over nine furlongs in his native Germany he shapes to me like a miler, and as such I can’t really consider backing him over this longer distance, nor do I think he has the class.

[frame_right src=”” href=”#”]Ektihaam[/frame_right]EKTIHAAM – Looked an absolute nutcase on the Knavesmire but ran a massive race to finish second to Bonfire (sixth in today’s Epsom Derby) in a really good time. He race keenly throughout and held every chance to deep inside the final furlong, where his earlier exertions had taken its toll and he just had nothing left. His form prior to that was when convincingly handing out a beating to Wrotham Heath who returned to form in fine style at Epsom today, winning a good handicap fairly convincingly, and all round his form is working out. Slight concern with his attitude but he is a decent price at around 9-1, and I can certainly see him hitting the first three.

FRENCH FIFTEEN – A tough one to get a handle on, he was the one to get closest to Camelot and made a sustained run to the line only to be narrowly denied by the excellent son of Montjeu. By Dubawi and winner of the Prix Djebel before his run at Newmarket,  he won a Group 1 over a mile at two and although you’d hope he’d get this longer distance I certainly don’t think it’s a given and he is plenty short enough at 4/1 with that in mind, I’d rather take my chances elsewhere – he’s a classy prospect though.

GREGORIAN – Ran better than expected to take fifth in the Poulains on his most recent start. A winner of a Newbury handicap in soft ground the time before, he improved beyond all recognition to run as well as he did. I have my reservations about that form though, and the quicker ground might not be as ideal for this son of Clodovil, and although he’ll improve for the step up in distance, he is hard to fancy.

HARD DREAM – Was another to benefit from racing up on the pace in a slowly run race in the Prix Naolies, and strictly on that form holds Tifongo. I can’t see him being good enough to play a hand in the finish here as his wins just don’t stack up to much, and is plenty short enough for me at around 16-1. I have plenty more in this race I’d turn to first before coming to this fellow, and I envisage a mid-to-rear finish for the son of Oasis Dream.

HIDDEN FLAME – Related to both Memphis Tennessee and Royal Bench by Barathea so you’d imagine the better ground and extra distance will suit this lightly raced maiden. He’ll need to improve massively though and this is a big leap up in the class, and I can’t possibly recommend him.

IMPERIAL MONARCH – Bred to be better over further than this distance, so it is a rather interesting and I think costly move to switch him here instead of allowing him his chance at Epsom. A race like the Irish Derby would have been better for him, and I see this lovely son of Galileo as more of a St Leger prospect so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get beaten tomorrow. I think his current industry price is ridiculous and is based around the recent exploits of Aidan O’Brien this season, and I’m passing him over – very nice horse though.

[frame_right src=”” href=”#”]Kesampour[/frame_right]KESAMPOUR – Clocked a really good figure at Saint Cloud when grimly hanging on to repel all challengers in the Prix Greffulhe (Group 3) a race won a year earlier by Pour Moi who went on to conquer all at Epsom in the Derby. It was one of only a couple of truly run races on the card that day but I hold a very strong rating for Kesampour, in fact he tops my figures for the race and he did it the hard way chasing a strong pace, and being asked to win his race from some way out. He is priced about right at around 7-1, and is one of the most likely winners in my eyes.

LUNAYIR – The second string for the Aga Khan won a conditions race at this track in the middle of May. He beat Telstar (held on form by Saint Baudalino), Last Train (a well regarded Andre Fabre horse) and The Best Lawyer (who was beaten further by First Date) so every way I look at this he is held by a number of horses, and imaging his winning chance to be rather minimal.

MOST IMPROVED – A lovely individual who as subject of a massive gamble for the 2000 Guineas before being pulled out a week before with lameness issues. He was third in the Dewhurst on his final start at two, and is the sort to be much the more finished article at three. He is bred to handle this sort of test (sire Lawman won the race) and I expect a good run from him, but it is a tough ask to ask a lightly raced individual to make his seasonal debut in a race like this, where his main rivals all have the benefit of a recent run.

NUTELLO – Has won three of four minor events in his native France, and was third on his other start to Pouliches third Topeka but none of his other form has really worked out. He improved on the figures with a recent tenth in the Poulains and even with the cheek-pieces applied it is hard to get enthused about his chances in this ultra-competitive renewal.

SAINT BAUDOLINO – I must admit this is a horse I don’t know much about, and one I’m coming around to rather late. This improving son of Pivotal rounded off his preparation with an impressive victory in the Prix de Guiche, quickening up and getting past Sofast in the closing stages when Olivier Peslier had already given the Freddy Head trained colt a beautiful ride. He was given a hard ride to win though, and a quick look at his form suggests he is held by Kesampour and Albion based on Saint Cloud running on a line through First Date – it could be the Andre Fabre colt has improved since then, but the time wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in the Prix De Guiche and he is short enough at the prices.

SAONOIS – Winner of the Prix La Force earlier in the season before a good solid fourth to Kesampour at Saint Cloud. He holds Tifongo, Hard Dream on the Prix La Force running, and his recent fourth to Kesampour reads favourably with me. He was the only horse to finish close enough to Kesampour in a race run at a true pace, and only weakened in the last 50 yards. He is overpriced at 25-1 but is held by a few of these on formlines, and will outrun his odds but won’t be good enough to take this.

SILVER NORTHERN – Held on form by both Sofast and Saint Baudalino and has nothing really to recommend it at this sort of level, and is quickly passed over in favour of something with more of a chance.

SIR JADE – Held on form by Top Trip based on their Prix Hocquart running and with no real excuses as to why he should reverse that form. He has looked a little suspect under pressure in his races, and I don’t think he has the required stamina for this trip, and he is also held by Saonois on earlier form.

SOFAST – Has good juvenile form having won the Prix La Rochette (Group 3) and finishing a good second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere (Group 1) to top two-year-old of 2011 in Dabirsim. He hasn’t looked as potent on return as a three-year-old and looks held on form by Saint Boudalino who came from a real unpromising position to run him down late, and is another I’m not overly keen on, especially at a skimpy 14/1.

TIFONGO – Had the run of the race when setting a slow pace at Longchamp last time, and is held on that run with Hard Dream. It is hard to imagine the winner of this coming from out of that race, so I can’t entertain this horse any longer than I have to, and I fear he’ll struggle with the ground if it gets any quicker than its current state.

TOP TRIP – Graduating from the Deauville all-weather surface onto the turf. Top Trip won on heavy ground at Saint Cloud before a second placing behind Kesampour on his next start. He wasn’t gaining on Kesampour in the closing stages and was being run down by Valdo Bere at the line, so it is tough to see him reversing placings with either. His next performance at Longchamp reads well, having beaten the well regarded Masterstroke who was being prepped for this race at the time of his defeat in the Prix Hocquart. I don’t think Masterstroke really ran to the level his homework suggested he was capable of, and thus feel Top Trip is flattered by this performance and I’m passing him over in favour of something else.

VALDO BERE – Looks a little bit of a big price at around a general 66-1. His run in the listed race won by Kesampour reads better than the bare form suggests, and given he was held up last off a fairly modest pace (ridden to suit the winner) he closed really strongly into the straight to almost run down Top Trip for second. Beaten into third behind both Hard Dream and Tifongo on ground I think was much softer than he’d like, a return to a sounder surface will bring out improvement in this colt, and I really think he’ll run better than his odds imply, but is likely to lack the required class.

This is a really tough race to get a handle on as it is a really good renewal, but if I was pressed I would probably see the most likely winner being Kesampour. The unbeaten son of King’s Best likes to race prominently which will put him in good stead in this race, goes well for Christophe Lemaire and clocked a really good time at Saint Cloud on his most recent effort to suggest he’ll play a hand in the finish here.

My idea of a value selection would be the Andre Fabre trained Albion who ran really well in the Prix Greffulhe last time behind Kesampour, and ought to improve for the booking of Frankie Dettori. He improved nicely off his comeback effort, and it is possibly (given the way Fabre trains) he has improved again off the back of that, and as such is a massive price at around 20-1.

Ektihaam looks likely to run a massive race on the form, will have no problems staying this trip and gets an inside birth which could be seen as a negative if he doesn’t get out the gates well. He is a good price at 9-1, and I couldn’t put anyone off.

[notification_box]1ST – Kesampour
2ND – Albion
3RD – Ektihaam [/notification_box]


*Information gathered from Wikipedia.

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