King seeking Classic double in French Derby test

Andre Fabre’s star switches up in trip at Chantilly

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Andre Fabre is looking forward to seeing Persian King test his powers over a mile and a quarter in the French Derby at Chantilly on Sunday.

The Kingman colt has racked up five successive wins since being beaten on his racecourse debut last August, most recently providing his trainer with a seventh victory in the French 2000 Guineas at ParisLongchamp three weeks ago.

He takes a step into the unknown as he chases a Classic double this weekend, but Fabre is confident his stamina will pass the test.

Persian King appears to have been handed an unfavourable starting berth, however, after being drawn in stall 14 of 15.

“He has progressed with every run of his life, only losing once and that was on his debut,” said Fabre.

“Now, the next thing he needs to prove is that he can stay 10 furlongs. Kingman was only a miler, but since he has been at stud, he has produced horses who have stayed further.

“On the dam side there is no doubt about the trip, being out of a Dylan Thomas mare.

“The draw is what it is and we’ll see what happens.”

Fabre also saddles Roman Candle and Slalom as he chases a fifth Prix du Jockey Club success.

He added: “They are two nice horses who have won their trial races well.

“Slalom has good acceleration and is a horse I like, so we’ll see.

“Both do not have the same rating and record as Persian King, of course.”

The home challenge also features a fascinating contender from Alain de Royer-Dupre’s yard in Zarkallani.

A son of Invincible Spirit out of the great racemare Zarkava, the three-year-old was seriously impressive when opening his account at the third attempt at ParisLongchamp, but that was only a week ago.

De Royer-Dupre said: “The colt is in an ideal condition for a big race such as the Prix du Jockey Club. He had an easy race last Sunday, which proved akin to nothing more than a training gallop for him.

“We believe he is entitled to take his chance in a race of this magnitude. It’s true to say it isn’t in my nature to run my horses a week later. However, sometimes you need to dare to dream and his entourage are in agreement with me that he should run.

“If everything pans out, I believe he can give a good account of himself.”

Freddy Head saddles Motamarris, who is unbeaten in three starts – completing his hat-trick with an eight-length win at this venue

“He is very well, but whether he is good enough is another question,” said Head.

“He has had the perfect preparation. He has had his three easy races, which is what I wanted, but he has beaten nothing.

“This is a big step up in class, so we will see how good he is.”

There are three British-trained runners in John Gosden’s Kick On, the Andrew Balding-trained Raise You and Roger Varian’s Surfman.

Raise You has been seriously impressive twice this season, following up his maiden success at Newbury with a dominant display in the Listed Fairway Stakes at Newmarket.

Balding said: “It looks a very deep race, but he seems in good form and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s big step up in class, obviously, but I’ve been very pleased with his two wins this year and hopefully he’s up to it.”

Surfman came under consideration for both this race and Saturday’s Investec Derby at Epsom after finishing third in the Dante at York and connections opted for a trip across the Channel.

“I was thrilled with his performance in the Dante,” said Varian.

“It was a slightly frustrating race, how it panned out. We wanted to ride our guy quite quiet. He has had three runs, but he doesn’t have vast experience.

“We wanted to continue his education, but turning for home on a flat track on good to firm ground, we were a little bit out of our ground. I thought he made up eyecatching ground in the straight.

“I thought it was a very good trial and performance. Who knows how he would fare in a race that panned out slightly differently?”

Aidan O’Brien fields three runners as he bids to claim the prize for the first time, with Ryan Moore partnering Epsom Blue Riband Trial winner Cape Of Good Hope, Donnacha O’Brien on Mohawk and Seamie Heffernan booked for Blenheim Palace.

Of Cape Of Good Hope, the trainer said: “He is a horse that won at Epsom and he has come forward a lot.

“He is a brother to Highland Reel.”

King seeking Classic double in French Derby test
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