St Mark’s Basilica will face 18 rivals when he bids for a French Classic double in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt, winner of last month’s French 2000 Guineas on the first start of his three-year-old campaign at ParisLongchamp, is joined in Sunday’s field by stablemate Van Gogh.
The latter was a possible for the Derby at Epsom until O’Brien pared his team down to one, favourite Bolshoi Ballet, for Saturday’s premier British Classic.
St Mark’s Basilica, who has been drawn in stall two, steps up beyond a mile for the first time this weekend, as does Ballydoyle’s apparent second string – last seen finishing third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
As in the French Guineas, Ioritz Mendizabal rides St Mark’s Basilica, while Colin Keane is called up for Van Gogh.
Like O’Brien, John and Thady Gosden will be double-handed in the French Derby, over 10 and a half furlongs – with their Dante Stakes runner-up Megallan (Olivier Peslier) and impressive Newmarket novice winner Derab, who will be ridden by Martin Harley and is a half-brother to the mighty Enable. The yard was successful last year with the brilliant Mishriff.
Roger Varian also provides a British challenger in the shape of El Drama (Mickael Barzalona), following his surprise victory in the Dee Stakes at Chester.
Among the home contingent, Jean-Claude Rouget has three contenders – dual Group Three winner Makaloun and unbeaten pair Saiydabad and Cheshire Academy. Makaloun and Cheshire Academy are drawn in stalls 18 and 19 respectively.
Frederic Rossi’s Sealiway, only eighth to St Mark’s Basilica at ParisLongchamp but a Group One-winning juvenile there, and Freddy Head’s Adhamo are others of note.
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