Horse Racing
Fast Tracker appeals in wide-open Prix du Jockey Club

31/05/2024 17:09

Fast Tracker shapes as the horse to beat in an intriguing edition of France’s premier Classic, the G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m), at Chantilly on Sunday (2 June).

Trained by Alex Pantall in the west of France and ridden for the first time by James Doyle, Fast Tracker was a runaway winner of his Prix du Jockey Club trial, the Listed Prix de Suresnes (2000m) and acts on the forecast very soft ground.

Crucially, he has a favourable low draw in stall five.

Only one Prix du Jockey Club winner in the past 10 years has won from a stall higher than eight.

Fast Tracker’s seven length demolition in his warm-up prompted Wathnan, the racing operation of the Emir of Qatar, to purchase him.

Doyle, the owner’s retained jockey, flew over to Pantall’s yard this week to familiarise himself with Fast Tracker.

“It wasn’t an exercise to test his ability, it was just a case of letting him stretch his legs and for me to get a feel of him,” Doyle told The Racing Post.

“It’s hard not to be pleased with him. He’s a very straightforward character and nice and relaxed.”

Pantall, who compares Fast Tracker with his 2007 French Oaks winner West Wind, commented: “James met the horse on Tuesday (28 May). It was an important first contact which went very well.”

Another plus in Fast Tracker’s favour – the Prix de Suresnes was won by both Sottsass and Ace Impact in the past five years en route to Prix du Jockey Club glory.

Last year’s winner Ace Impact, who went on to claim the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m), was trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, who is triple handed as he seeks a seventh win in the Classic.

Rouget will be absent on Sunday as he has been instructed by his doctor to take three weeks rest.

His trio of Wahdan, Arrow Eagle (a half-brother to Ace Impact) and Grecian Storm all fared badly in Thursday’s (30 May) draw.

Aidan O’Brien is represented by Diego Velazquez, who ran an encouraging fourth in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (1600m) on his seasonal comeback.

The master Irish trainer’s colt has an obvious chance with Ryan Moore riding but will not be suited by all the rain that has fallen on Chantilly this week, nor his number 11 barrier.

English trainer Clive Cox is optimistic over the chances of Ghostwriter, who finished fourth in the G1 2000 Guineas (1600m) and was handed a favourable low draw.

“The form of the Guineas is already looking strong,” Cox pointed out.

Another English challenger, Sunway (Oisin Murphy), failed to justify his cramped odds when beaten at Saint-Cloud, where he won a Group 1 last season, but has sparkled in a racecourse gallop since.

Andre Fabre, successful last weekend in the G1 Prix d’Ispahan (1850m), runs Sosie (Maxime Guyon) and Poule d’Essai des Poulains third Alcantor.

The home team has another live contender in Look De Vega, son of Fabre’s 2010 Prix du Jockey Club winner Lope de Vega.

“Up to now he’s only won a maiden and a class 2 race, but he’s shown us enormous potential in his workouts and I reckon we’ve never had the luck to have a horse like him,” said Yann Lerner, who trains the colt with his father Carlos.

The Prix du Jockey Club is also known as the French Derby. It was first run in 1836.