Prix du Jockey Club: Ballydoyle reveal jockey bookings for French Derby
Colin Keane and Ioritz Mendizabal have slotted in as the last pieces of the riding jigsaw ahead of Sunday's Qatar Prix du Jockey Club (3.00) at Chantilly, with both men picking up plum rides for Aidan O'Brien.
Mendizabal retains his partnership with Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner St Mark's Basilica, while Keane will fly in for the ride on Van Gogh.
With 19 horses declared, Friday morning's draw was relatively kind to the O'Brien runners and Coral cut St Mark's Basilica from 5-2 favourite into 9-4 on the back of an advantageous inner berth in stall 2.
Van Gogh is housed in stall 12, next to the Roger Varian-trained El Drama in 13.
But John and Thady Gosden and Jean-Claude Rouget – responsible for four of the last five Jockey Club winners between them – enjoyed little luck when the draw was made.
The Gosdens-trained pair Derab and Megallan will break from 14 and 15, while Makaloun and Cheshire Academy must navigate a path from 18 and 19 on the wide outside if they are to provide Rouget with a fifth win in the race. Tough stablemate Saiydabad fared slightly better in stall 11.
From the 1m2½f start at Chantilly there is a relatively short run to the sweeping righthand turn and, with the exception of Lope De Vega – who defied stall 20 of 20 in 2010 – and Saonois, no Prix du Jockey Club winner has succeeded from higher than 13 since the race was first shortened from a mile and a half in 2005.
The statistics when the ground is quick speak even more heavily in favour of those drawn on the inside but, after a hot and dry week, the forecast has become more uncertain heading into the weekend.
"On Thursday morning the penetrometer reading was 3.3 or good to soft," said Chantilly's Marin Le Cour Grandmaison. "But the weather forecast is rather uncertain, as thunderstorms are predicted for Friday in particular."
Sunday is due to be warm and dry and should the track miss most of the showers then there is still a reasonable chance of good ground.
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