St Mark’s Basilica (11/4f) completed a French Classic double on Sunday and in the process gave Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien his first victory in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly.
St Mark’s Basilica, winner of the Poule d’Eassai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp last month, took the 181st Prix du Jockey Club in fine style, winning from Sealiway (66/1) and Millebosc (20/1).
The Ioritz Mendizabal-ridden son of Siyouni broke well from the stalls with his rider pushing him forward to maintain his position in the early stages of the one mile two and a half furlong Group 1 contest.
Europe’s top-rated juvenile of last season maintained a position close to the lead pace which was set by Normandy Bridge. El Drama challenged the leader once the horses entered the home straight but Mendizabal on the 120-rated St Mark’s Basilica quickly made their move along the rail and the pair were quickly in command of the French Derby.
The Coolmore partners-owned colt comfortably moved clear of the field and was never in danger from there to the finishing line. Sealiway finished a length and three quarters behind in second with Millebosc a short head further back in third place.
Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, the winning rider Ioritz Mendizabal, who previously triumphed in the race with Vision d’État in 2008 and Mishriff last year, said:
“This morning I spoke with Aidan, and he asked me not to go to the front too early, so I waited as long as I could. He was going so well that I had to go to the front a little bit further out than I wanted.”
Asked whether St Mark’s Basilica would get a mile and a half in future, the now three-time winning Prix du Jockey Club rider stated:
“But he has won like a horse that would stay the full Classic distance (mile and a half) and any question of him getting the (extended 10-furlong) trip today, he proved.”
When queried about future plans for the multiple Group 1 winner, the 47-year-old jockey answered:
“He’s a very good horse. He could be an Arc de Triomphe horse in two or three months. The distance is no problem.”
The Robert Scarborough-bred colt, in the colours of Derrick Smith, becomes the fourth colt since 2005, and the first since Lope De Vega in 2010, to complete the Poule d’Eassai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club Classic double.
On his last run, in the Group 1 Emirates Poule d’Eassai des Poulains over a mile at ParisLongchamp, the Ballydoyle inmate beat Colosseo and Breizh Eagle in the colts’ Classic.
Sunday’s French Derby win for St Mark’s Basilica is his third Group 1 success in three races, having taken the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, England, on 10 October 2020, the final run of his juvenile season.
The son of the Galileo mare, Cabaret Queen, now has a career record of four wins, a second, a third and a fifth place finish from seven career starts.
Photos: Courtesy of Breandán Ó hUallacháin