Swing can lead the raiding party

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The Independent Online
CELTIC SWING, one of five British-trained challengers for today's Prix du Jockey-Club, the French Derby, must win convincingly to retain his "superhorse" aura. While he is likely to start odds-on favourite, the home side will test him thoroughly.

Only two British horses have taken the spoils at Chantilly - Old Vic in 1989 and Sanglamore the following year - and the defence this afternoon is headed by the Andre Fabre-trained Diamond Mix, who hacked up in the Prix Greffulhe on his last outing. Fabre, who has yet to win this race, fields three others, of whom Walk On Mix deserves as much respect as his stablemate.

Both colts are owned by Jean-Luc Lagardere and will be coupled in the win pool, as will the four Sheikh Mohammed runners, Affidavit, Flemensfirth, Winged Love and Classic Cliche.

The Aga Khan has won four Jockey-Clubs, and his representative this year is Rifapour, a son of his Epsom hero Shahrastani, and who showed a turn of foot to beat the free-running Poliglote by a neck in the Prix Hocquart.

The presence of Celtic Swing has ensured that a massive contingent from Britain will go to France to cheer him, but the performances of the other raiders will be of as much interest.

Richard Hannon's Commoner and John Dunlop's Indian Light look outclassed. Flemensfirth, a dogged galloper, paid a compliment to Munwar by taking the Prix Lupin, but his length runner-up there, Angel Falls, was five lengths behind Diamond Mix in the Greffulhe.

Classic Cliche beat Annus Mirabilis (who runs in the afternoon's other Group 1 event, the Prix Jean Prat) and Presenting in the Dante Stakes and is clearly in fine fettle, but his ability to see out the stiff Chantilly mile and a half must be taken on trust.

On the book, Celtic Swing has up to five lengths to spare over his 11 rivals and, assuming he gets the trip - and there is no reason to think that he will not - Britain's champion should give his supporters something to shout about. But although he has ducked the clash with Pennekamp at Epsom, the Fabre big guns are still firmly trained on him, and Kevin Darley may find his Jockey-Club debut a baptism of fire. The late withdrawal of Poliglote's intended pacemaker, Fifty Four, means that tactics will be at a premium and Darley may find the most comfortable place is at the front.

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