Saonois (yellow stars on silks) gets up in a tight finish at ChantillyPICTURE: DYGA Laurent / scoopdyga.com
O'Brien denied after outsider wins Derby
Report: France, Sunday
Chantilly: Prix du Jockey Club (Group 1) 3yo, colts & fillies, 1m2½f
OUTSIDE chance Saonois landed a big surprise in the French Derby as he just squeezed home in front, but British and Irish-trained horses drew a blank in a rough-and-ready running of the Classic.
Joseph O'Brien was highly fancied to go close to a British-French Derby double but he finished outside the places on Imperial Monarch after running into trouble entering the straight and getting shuffled back to almost last, before running on strongly down the centre to finish in the first half of the field.
O'Brien said: “I had to check him, he was very unlucky."
In contrast to Saturday's nine-runner Investec Derby, which O'Brien won on Camelot, a maximum 20-runner field led to plenty of problems in running. 2,000 Guineas second French Fifteen was among those denied a clear run.
None of the British-trained trio of Most Improved, Gregorian and Ektihaam managed to threaten and all three encountered trouble in running.
The French-trained trio of Saint Baudolino, Nutello and Saonois hit the line in a blanket finish but it was the last mentioned who narrowly prevailed, giving his young rider Antoine Hamelin a dream victory just weeks after turning professional.
A stewards inquiry was held but no changes to the original places were made.