Almanzor: runs away with the French DerbyPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
wins the French Derby
Report: Chantilly, Sunday
Prix du Jockey Club (Group 1) 1m2½f, turf, 3y0 colts and fillies
JEAN-CLAUDE ROUGET won the Prix du Jockey Club for a second time, though not with the horse punters expected, as Almanzor produced a 20-1 shock to run out an authoritative winner of the French Derby.
Rouget's best chance appeared to be with wide-margin Prix Hocquart winner Mekhtaal, who was sent off as the 9-2 favourite, but Almanzor proved himself to be the best horse on the day as he quickly settled matters with a good turn of foot to win by one and a half lengths.
Zarak, a son of the brilliant mare Zarkava, bounced back from a slightly disappointing fifth in the French 2,000 Guineas to chase Almanzor home in second for Saturday's Investec Derby-winning owner the Aga Khan, while the supplemented Dicton completed a clean sweep for the home team in third.
There were six British or Irish-trained challengers but they could not make an impression as the domestic runners dominated. In fact, the overseas raiders filled six of the last seven places.
A delighted Rouget said: "I've always liked him and he was well drawn but you couldn't say before he was among the favourites. It is wonderful for Jean-Bernard (jockey). To win races like this is why we all get up every morning."
Almanzor was providing Jean-Claude Rouget with a second Classic success of the season, following on from La Cressonniere's French 1,000 Guineas win. Like Almanzor, La Cressonniere had also been regarded as the trainer's second-string.
The victory was a significant one for rider Jean-Bernard Eyquem, who last won a race at the highest level ten years ago with Tie Black in the French 1,000 Guineas.
Almanzor, who was providing sire Wootton Bassett with a first Group 1 winner, has been introduced into the market for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at 16-1 with Paddy Power.
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With the day's feature race at Chantilly only minutes away, there was a dramatic late withdrawal as the Mario Hofer-trained Parthenius was declared a non-runner due to identification issues.
The German raider's passport markings were reportedly different to his actual ones and while everything was correct regarding his microchip, the son of Soldier Hollow was not allowed to take part.
Also at Chantilly
Prix de Sandringham (Group 2) 1m, 3yo
VOLTA ran out a decisive winner of the Prix de Sandringham, skipping away from her rivals under Pierre-Charles Boudot to potentially set up a tilt at the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) later this month.
The Francis-Henri Graffard-trained filly showed a brilliant turn of foot to quickly end the race as a contest and eventually put four lengths between herself and the runner-up Besotted at the line, with Aim To Please a head further back in third.
Volta would need to be supplemented for the Prix de Diane but Graffard suggested that option will now be discussed by connections.
"She's really relaxed this year and improved with every race," said Graffard.
"She really impressed me today and although she's not entered in the Prix de Diane, you'd have to take it into consideration as I'm also sure the step up in distance wouldn't be a problem.
"She does take time to recover from her races however so it might just come too quick, we'll have to see."