Derab and Megallan give John Gosden a strong hand in his bid for back-to-back victories in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club on Sunday.
The Clarehaven handler, who now trains in partnership with son Thady, secured his first success in the French Derby last season with the brilliant Mishriff, who has since won the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Both Derab and Megallan have some way to go scale those heights, but head to Chantilly with strong claims – albeit neither has fared particularly well in the draw.
Derab, a son of Sea The Stars and a half-brother to Gosden’s wonder mare Enable, opened his account at the third attempt with a runaway success in a Newmarket novice event last month. He is drawn wider than ideal in stall 14.
Megallan was last seen contesting the Dante Stakes at York – running a fine race in defeat to fill the runner-up spot behind Epsom contender Hurricane Lane. He will break next to his stable companion in stall 15.
Thady Gosden said: “Both horses cantered on Friday morning and seem in good form.
“Derab has taken his Newmarket race well and Megallan ran very well in the Dante and has been in good form since.
“Chantilly is a hard enough track to ride without being drawn out on a wing, but it could have been worse. Martin Harley (rides Derab) has ridden there a couple of times and Olivier Peslier (rides Megallan) could go round there in his sleep, I’d imagine.
“They’re forecast quite a bit of rain. Hopefully the ground doesn’t get too soft.”
St Mark’s Basilica bids to join an elite list by notching up a French Classic double, having won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains – the French 2000 Guineas – last time out.
Shamardal doubled up in 2005, the year the race switched distance to 10 furlongs, while Lope De Vega (2010) and Brametot (2017) have also lifted both races in recent years.
St Mark’s Basilica, who also landed the Dewhurst last year, was partnered by Ioritz Mendizabal to Classic glory at ParisLongchamp last month, and he will be in the plate again on Sunday.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s been lovely since the Guineas and it was always the plan to go back to France for the French Derby, so that’s where he is.
“We’re very happy with him since and looking forward to seeing him run. He hasn’t run over that trip, but we’re looking forward to seeing it.”
O’Brien also runs Van Gogh, a Group One winner as a juvenile in France and last seen finishing third behind Mac Swiney in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. Colin Keane takes the ride.
The Ballydoyle handler added: “Van Gogh is a quality horse that won a Group One at the back end of last year and he had a very good run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. For him to run that well, as we took our time on him in not a strongly-run race, we were very happy with him.
“He always works like a horse with plenty of class and with that type of horse you can never be sure (of the trip) until they go there. You would think there is a really good chance he will get a mile and a quarter.
“I don’t think (he needs soft ground) as he had some very nice runs here on nice ground.”
Jean Claude-Rouget fields three, headed by Makaloun, who relinquished his unbeaten juvenile record when only third to Gear Up in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October but returned with a cosy success in the Prix de Guiche last month.
Rouget said: “We made a conscious decision to keep Makaloun under wraps for a considerable period during the winter, as he had run late in the season and on a track that was very demanding on the body. So he went late into training, but quite quickly came to himself in the mornings.
“In the Prix de Guiche, which the colt won, he wasn’t 100 per cent. I don’t think I can have him in any better condition than he is now.”
Rouget also has two unbeaten colts in Saiydabad and Cheshire Academy, who won the Group Three Prix Noailles in the stewards’ room on his only outing so far this term.
Both Makaloun and Cheshire Academy will have to contend with high draws though, in 18 and 19 respectively in a 19-runner field.
Adhamo won the Prix La Force in April for Freddy Head, but had to settle for fourth behind Makaloun at Chantilly last time out.
Head expects the 10-furlong trip to suit and is unconcerned by conditions, which were described as very soft on Friday following 32 millimetres of rain.
He said: “The colt is doing very well and I’m very happy with him. The 2,100-metres trip is not a problem and, if it rains it won’t be a problem either.”
Three colts who finished behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Poulains take him on again – Policy Of Truth (fourth), Normandy Bridge (seventh) and Sealiway (eighth).