Christophe Soumillon, dismayed not to ride a Classic winner for the Aga Khan at Epsom 24 hours earlier, consoled himself by doing so at Chantilly yesterday when Darsi won the Prix du Jockey-Club. Since its abbreviation to 10 and a half furlongs, it seems specious to maintain that this race is still the French Derby. That description should perhaps be reserved for the Grand Prix de Paris instead, but Soumillon had no such quibbles as he decorated his 25th birthday by blowing a kiss to the stands passing the post.
As it happens, Darsi has already won over a mile and a half and did well to get up from two other local hopes, Best Name and Arras, given how a modest gallop suppressed his stamina. Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupré, he may seek to avenge Visindar by following Sir Percy to the Curragh. "We weren't sure whether he would have enough speed to drop back in trip, but he is from a very high-class family," the Aga Khan said. "If he comes out of this race well, he will go for either the Irish Derby or Grand Prix de Paris."
Art Deco fared best of the raiders in fourth and his trainer, Charles Egerton, will also consider the Curragh. "Frankie [Dettori, his rider] felt he was lacking in experience on ground as quick as this, but I'm still delighted with him," he said. "He will be better at a mile and a half."
Aussie Rules, marooned behind the pace, never landed a blow for the Aidan O'Brien stable, suddenly in need of a tonic. "We were in the stalls for such a long time he just fell asleep and I couldn't wake him up," Kieren Fallon said. "He was running on, but it was too late." The jockey did ensure that one good prize was exported when Moss Vale, a flourishing sprinter since his transfer to David Nicholls, won the Prix du Gros-Chene in decisive fashion.
* Westmead Hawk, at odds of 4-7, became only the fourth dog to land consecutive runnings of the Greyhound Derby at Wimbledon on Saturday night.
PRIX DU GROS-CHENE
2.45 1. MOSS VALE (K Fallon); 2. Benbaun; 3. Tax Free . 12 ran. 2, ½. (D Nicholls). Pari-mutuel: £7.00; £2.80, £3.40, £2.80. Exacta: £22.70. CSF: £54.48.
PRIX DU JOCKEY-CLUB
4.35 1. DARSI (C Soumillon) 14-1; 2. Best Name 15-2; 3. Arras 7-1. 15 ran. (A de Royer-Dupré). CSF: £112.03.