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Prix du Jockey Club preview

Smallest field in 105 years at Epsom for Camelot's Derby, but a capacity field of 20 in the French equivalent. And it's a damn good race too, plenty of chances here with the favourite marked overnight at only 9/2. Calum Madell (@calummadell) did the hard work on this preview including the tips, I've added a few bits & pieces, including links for race replays.

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A fascinating renewal of the French Classic which has a strong home and away contingent. The UK and Ireland have a number of very good runners and this hots up to be a great race.

The unbeaten Kesampour leads the charge for France. Mikel Delzangles has proved himself as one of the best trainers in France. The trip should be absolutely ideal on breeding and he should at least confirm form with Top Trip in this and give a great account of himself. Won the Prix Greffulhe last start, which Pour Moi won last year going into the Epsom Derby.

French Fifteen won the Criterium De Saint Cloud last year and after a smart reappearance, then duly ran a superb 2nd to subsequent Epsom Derby winner Camelot in the 2000 Guineas. That is really strong form and although he needs to prove he handles better ground just as well and the trip, both should be no problem and he probably rates as the one to beat.

Course and distance winner Lunayir is not without hope at a big price although needs to step up. His two seconds were close up behind Hermival (2000 Guineas form) and Albion (rival today).

Andre Fabre has two and on jockey bookings Saint Bauldolino is his best chance over Albion, who found Kesampour too good last time. It's hard to see Maxime Guyon getting that wrong and although both need to improve, they certainly can and that puts them in the mix. Saint Baudolino's last win in the G3 Prix De Guiche can be seen here - it's worth a look! See Kesampour for Albion's last start replay, Frankie rides him this time.

Hard Dream should be finishing well late on. He was a winner at Longchamp over 1m3f in April in the G2 Prix Noailles, form of which is decent (note nearly 20secs slower than standard!) but he would need quite a bit of luck in running in this field.

Top Trip is a rare runner in this for predominantly jumps stable of Francois Doumen, won the Prix Hocquart last start at 16/1.

Sofast needs to find a little more and doesn't strike as a natural Prix Du Jockey Club type.

The British and Irish contingent looks pretty strong and the one that really catches my eye is EKTIHAAM. He was a taking winner of a Newbury 1m2f event where he beat Wrotham Heath (won Epsom handicap off 90). Then in a smart Dante field he was for me unlucky not to beat Bonfire in a close finish. He came from off the pace after pulling hard and being reluctant to go in the stalls but he showed a marked turn of foot, only to be headed by the slightly stronger stayer as the early exertions told. He is well drawn here with a slightly stronger pace likely to suit while the return of Paul Hanagan is another big boost and he looks an ideal candidate.

Most Improved runs for the first time this season after missing the Craven and the Guineas after a setback. He is extremely well regarded by Brian Meehan (was heavily backed in buildup to 2000 Guineas) but this will be some ask on his reappearance but it's interesting connections go for this instead of targets over a mile.

Imperial Monarch opts to come here after swerving the Derby and that may be a wise option. He was a taking winner at Sandown last time when racing all on his own on the wide outside, beating Thought Worthy who has franked the form since and ran well in the Epsom Derby. He is good value for that victory and more and while he may come on for a step up to 1m4f this should not prevent a big run to complete the Derby double for connections who won with Camelot at Epsom.

John Gosden did well in France last year with Colombian and has a similar type in Gregorian who also comes in with just a maiden win to his name. He has it to find in a really good race but should run his race and we'll know more after this.

Amaron is a German colt who finished a close-up fourth in the 2012 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), that's him along the rails. Awful draw but Danedream winning the Arc last year taught us not to underestimate German form.

Verdict

A fantastic race with a strong home challenge and with runners from abroad making it even more intriguing. EKTIHAAM is a strong fancy here though with this race looking ideal for him. He has a significant turn of foot, as seen when only just failing to beat Bonfire in the Dante but with his early exertions he is good value for better than he showed. He is well drawn and looks to have an outstanding chance. Kesampour has done little wrong so far and should go well while French Fifteen's Guineas 2nd has worked out really well and he seems more of a middle distance type too. Saint Bauldchine is rapidly improving while Lunayir and Albion have e/w claims for the home team. Away from home, Ektihaam is the one for me as already mentioned but Imperial Monarch must go close. His Sandown win over Thought Worthy where he travelled wide all the way is working well and he should go well for the all-conquering Ballydoyle operation. It's interesting that Most Improved comes here rather than over a mile for his return after his setback which meant he missed the Guineas but he would need to be pretty special to go out and win this. Elsewhere Hard Dream is interesting but would need some luck while Top Trip can't be totally dismissed. Sofast has ability but doesn't strike as a 10f horse while we'll find out a lot more about John Gosden's Gregorian though the stable are in good form.

Advice - Ektihaam 4pts win @7/1 generally

You can read more of Calum's work on his site TheYoungRacegoer.

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