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French Classics reaction plus a Roger Varian debutant to note as crowds return

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The 2021 Flat season is well under way and it's full steam ahead to the first of the Irish Classics this month – the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas and Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas – and next month's Epsom Classics, the Cazoo Derby and Cazoo Oaks.

Market movers come thick and fast as the key Classic trials are run in Britain and Ireland, but big-race contenders can come from anywhere and it's easy to miss a potential dark horse. Classic Clues, our new series running every morning, has you covered.

Here's a recap of Sunday's action and how it impacted the Classic betting.


Racing round-up: Basilica brilliant in French 2,000 Guineas

Epsom clues are starting to thin out but St Mark's Basilica offered a key pointer towards the Prix du Jockey Club and roared to the top of the three-year-old pecking order with victory in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp.

Last season's Dewhurst Stakes hero skipped the 2,000 Guineas to wait for the French equivalent and Aidan O'Brien's decision paid off as he recorded a one and three-quarter length success.

In the French 1,000 Guineas – better known as the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches – Newmarket heroine Mother Earth could only finish second behind 66-1 rank outsider Coeursamba, who negotiated her way through the field for a ready success.

However, winning trainer Jean-Claude Rouget said no more Classics will be on her agenda, with the three-year-old set to skip the Prix de Diane at Chantilly next month.

Oaks entry Frill (far): was beaten at Naas on Sunday

At Naas, Oaks entry Frill – who was 66-1 for the Epsom Classic before racing – could only finish second in the fillies maiden over a mile.

However, Khartoum was trimmed into 25-1 (from 40) for the Cazoo Derby by Sky Bet following his impressive success in the mile handicap. He remains a general 50-1 for the Derby with other firms.


What they said

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of St Mark's Basilica
I'm delighted with him. The plan last year was to go to the Lagadere but that obviously didn't work out and that's why he ended up going to the Dewhurst. He has the option of Ascot for the St James' Palace Stakes or back to France for their Derby. The original plan with him was to go for the French Guineas and then go back there for the French Derby so we'll see.

Jean-Claude Rouget, trainer of Coeursamba
It's a pleasant surprise. I knew she had quality and she had already shown me that double acceleration that the good horses have. After that I really didn't know. She's not in the Coronation Stakes and there is a lot of issues with Brexit and Covid-19. I don't think she's a filly for the Diane, she wants this trip.


Market movers

Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas

St Mark's Basilica 4-1 (from 10) Paddy Power

Prix du Jockey Club

St Mark's Basilica 9-4 (from 5) Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook

Cazoo Derby

Khartoum 25-1 (from 40) Sky Bet


Today's racing: Varian newcomer to note

With the conclusion of the Dante meeting last week, the most recognised Classic trials have passed and the picture for the Cazoo Oaks and Derby has become clearer.

Roger Varian enjoyed a fruitful period in the trials, picking up the Dee Stakes with El Drama and the Lingfield Derby Trial with 10-1 Derby hope Third Realm, and he potentially could add another hope to his powerful Classic battalion at Leicester on Monday evening.

Bashosh – currently a 250-1 rank outsider for the Cazoo Derby – makes his debut for Varian and owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum in the 7f British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden (6.35) on what could be an unlikely yet unique route to Epsom.

Roger Varian: has been in fine form in the Derby trials this season

The three-year-old is bred to be a top-level prospect too being by leading sire Dubawi and out of a Listed-winning mare for the owner and trainer.

He is also a full brother to the same connections' Nezwaah, who won the 2017 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

There is plenty of quality in his pedigree and should he put up an impressive performance at the East Midlands track, his triple-figure odds for the Derby could shorten.


Read more weekend reaction . . .

St Mark's Basilica cruises to victory in the French 2,000 Guineas

'A very pleasant surprise' – 66-1 shot Coeursamba shocks Mother Earth

Whoosh! Dettori reaching for superlatives as Palace Pier powers home

Lee Mottershead: one beast and one monster – superstar performances as the Flat finally takes off (Members' Club)

'Talented' Al Aasy has William Haggas purring as trainer eyes big targets


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The three-year-old is bred to be a top-level prospect too being by leading sire Dubawi and out of a Listed-winning mare
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