The French Derby or Prix du Jockey Club is run the day after the English equivalent at Epsom and Persian King brings leading form claims into this Group 1 contest over an extended 1m 2f at Chantilly this Sunday (15:25).
This Kingman colt is one of three in the race for trainer Andre Fabre, who is looking for his fifth success in the most prestigious three-year-olds only event in France.
Persian King is five from five over a mile and his damsire, the great Dylan Thomas, won multiple Group 1 races over further.
He recorded back-to-back successes in minor contests at this venue before stepping up in class at Newmarket.
The form of Persian King’s British debut when prevailing by a neck after a sustained duel with Magna Grecia in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes looks very strong.
All of the second, third and fourth horses home have come out and won this season.
Magna Grecia landed the English 2000 Guineas, while Circus Maximus and Western Australia took Listed contests at the Chester May Festival and Navan when both stepped up in trip.
Victory on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket brought up a hat-trick for Persian King, and he has since comfortably landed another Group 3 on reappearance before following-up in the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp.
He lengthened well when shaken up to lead before the final furlong and ran on under pressure to score by a length from Shaman.
That Group 1 victory means Persian King is perfectly entitled to be 13/8 favourite with Betfair.
Stable companion Slalom could be biggest danger
British and Irish raiders don’t have the best record in the Prix du Jockey club.
While Andrew Balding runner Raise You readily won a Listed contest over 1m 2f at Newmarket, the main danger to Persian King could be another Fabre inmate in Slalom.
This unexposed Intello colt is bred to get this trip and unbeaten in three runs.
He landed both his starts a juvenile, then took the step up into Group 3 company firmly in his stride when drawing clear under a hands and heels ride at Longchamp.
As that victory came over an extended 1m 2f, Slalom is already proven at the trip. This demands more, but the Fabre yard are in decent nick and the same can’t be said of another leading contender for the home team.
Motamarris represents Freddy Head and powerful owner Hamdan Al Maktoum. Like Slalom, he is unbeaten in three starts and made all over course and distance when bolting up by eight lengths last time out.
However, Head’s runners aren’t reproducing their form at the moment and the yard looks one to avoid. It’s thus Slalom who looks well worth considering each-way at 12/1 with Betfred.
Another British raider, meanwhile, is Dante third Surfman.
Trained by Roger Varian, who has a great start to the Flat turf season, he ran out a wide-margin winner on the all-weather at Newcastle before going down just five lengths to Telecaster at York.
Surfman was only four lengths behind last season’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot, who was far from disgraced when quickly turned out after the Dante and runner-up in the Irish 2000 Guineas.
He is 12/1 with Unibet for this and could come on for that return to turf.
Mohawk a big price back up in trip
The French Derby is one of the few races Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won, so the Ballydoyle maestro launches a three-pronged attack on this year’s renewal.
While Cape Of Good Hope is the choice of stable jockey Ryan Moore following his Listed victory in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom, Mohawk looks overpriced on the pick of his form at 33/1 with Coral.
This son of Galileo was a fine third to Anthony Van Dyck in a Group 2 and then fourth to Quorto in the National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend.
When stepped up from 7f to 1m for the Royal Lodge at Newmarket, Mohawk stayed on well to lead a 1-2-3 home for his stable.
Cape Of Good Hope was three lengths behind him in third off level weights, so has a bit to find.
Mohawk then ran really well under a 5lb penalty and beaten just over a length to chase home Circus Maximus in the Dee Stakes at Chester on his first start over 1m 2f.
That was a big performance and he was actually gaining on the winner in the closing stages, contrary to some comments in-running that claim his challenge flattened out close home.
Mohawk was then dropped back in trip for the Irish 2000 Guineas, but lacked the foot to get involved.
He wasn’t totally disgraced down over 1m and beaten less than eight lengths, but this extra two-and-a-half furlongs is sure to suit him better.
Donnacha O’Brien again takes the ride and he has a 40 per cent strike rate aboard Mohawk.