Ferguson retains El Bodegon faith ahead of French Derby bid

James Ferguson is banking on a return to France bringing out the best in El Bodegon in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday.

A Group Three winner at Chantilly in September, the Kodiac colt went on to round off his juvenile campaign by providing his trainer with a first Group One success in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Having beaten leading Derby contender Stone Age on the latter occasion, El Bodegon was well fancied for his return in the Dante at York, but trailed home seventh of the eight runners.

With conditions likely to be more in his favour for this weekend’s French Derby, Ferguson is hopeful his stable star can bounce back to form, with Ioritz Mendizabal – who steered him to both of his French triumphs as a juvenile – set to return to the saddle.

Reflecting on his York run, Ferguson said: “I think we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and run him in France where everything should be in his favour, hopefully.

“He’s obviously done his best racing in France and they’re due a bit of rain at Chantilly, so hopefully there’ll be a bit of ease in the ground and I think it’s the logical step going forward really.”

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El Bodegon before running in the Dante Stakes
El Bodegon before running in the Dante Stakes (Ashley Iveson/PA)

El Bodegon is 20-1 with Coral for the Prix du Jockey Club, with Charlie Appleby’s Modern Games the 5-2 favourite to complete a Classic double following his French 2000 Guineas success.

“It’s a very competitive race and Modern Games is going to be very hard to beat, but we’re going there with every chance and looking forward to it,” Ferguson added.

“He’s in good form, the plan is for Ioritz to ride and we’ll learn a lot more about him.”

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