Sottsass shocks Persian King in Prix du Jockey Club

Fourth French Derby for Jean-Claude Rouget

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Sottsass sprang a surprise when outgunning Persian King to land the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club in record time at Chantilly.

Cristian Demuro brought the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained colt to challenge the hot favourite in the final furlong.

Persian King had every chance of following up his victory in the French 2000 Guineas when taking the lead from Motamarris in the straight, but he just ran out of stamina in the closing stages.

Sottsass (10-1) came out of the pack to lay down the challenge to Andre Fabre’s Classic winner and asserted in the final 100 metres to score by two lengths, giving Rouget a fourth French Derby triumph.

Sottsass was given a quote of 16-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Betfair.

Aidan O’Brien’s Cape Of Good Hope stayed on well to take fourth place, but the three British raiders -John Gosden’s Kick On, Andrew Balding’s Raise You and Surfman, from Roger Varian’s stable – never threatened.

“He’s a special horse today. He did a good job the last 200 metres and had good acceleration. He was a bit excited before the race, but was calm behind the gates and he ran a very good race,” Demuro told Sky Sports Racing.

“The race went perfect for me because on the last corner I sat behind Persian King and the last two furlongs I asked him to go out and to accelerate. He had a good turn of foot and the distance was perfect.

“He had won twice on heavy ground, but today it was good to firm today so the ground was no problem.

“Monsieur Rouget asked me to sit just behind the leader and give him a chance and get a good result. It was just his fourth run so he can improve a lot after this race.

“We will see where hie goes next, but I think he’s a really good Group One horse. The distance is not a problem so we will see what Jean-Claude wants to do.”

He added: “It’s exciting and amazing to win this kind of race. I came from Italy five years ago and I’ve won a lot of Group One races for Monsieur Rouget. Today was special for me.”

Fabre’s fears his Kingman colt might not last the extended mile and a quarter proved well founded.

He said: “I come back to my first inclinations and clearly he didn’t stay.

“He was travelling well with two furlongs to go and got tired at the end. He was beaten by a very good horse.

“He will go back to a mile.”

Fabre had better luck with Inns Of Court in the Prix du Gros-Chene, with a dominant success booking the five-year-old’s ticket to Royal Ascot.

Lisa-Jane Graffard, French representative for Godolphin, said: “We knew he had a lot of speed, but what he has accomplished for his first try over 1000 metres (five furlongs) is fantastic.

“We thought he could get overwhelmed at the start, but that wasn’t the case. Inns of Court is a horse with a distinct character and can have various moods. Today, he came prepared, he had his ears pricked and was ready for the fight.

“He is due to run in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, but we will discuss with Mr Fabre whether he might consider running him in the King’s Stand Stakes after this performance. All our options are open.”

Elsewhere on the undercard there was a British victory, with the Roger Charlton-trained Aspetar taking the Grand Prix de Chantilly.

The four-year-old son of Al Kazeem was ridden by James Doyle in the Group Two contest, beating Ziyad by three-quarters of a length.

Doyle said: “The ground was too soft for him last time. He is in his element in races run at a strong gallop, as was the case here. So the way that the race unfolded suited him really well.”

Obligate, a daughter of Frankel, maintained her unbeaten record in the Prix de Sandringham.

Trainer Pascal Bary said of the Khalid Abdullah-owned three-year-old: “At Chantilly, horses can often get very wound up, but I wasn’t worried – she’s very good. She showed her courage as well as class.

“Today she had a proper race, a hard race, and we will mull matters over before deciding where to go next.”

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