05/31/2013 2:42PM

Europe: Intello looks for redemption in French Derby


Intello finished third but looked like the best horse on May 12 at Longchamp in the Group 1 Poules d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), and he will have a chance to prove he is France’s top 3-year-old Sunday at Chantilly in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, the French Derby.

Intello, a Wertheimer et Frere homebred by Galileo trained by two-time French Derby winner Andre Fabre, is one of 19 entrants in the race, contested at 1 5/16 miles on Chantilly’s right-handed course, which is expected to be very soft Sunday. Fabre was to saddle Ocovango in the Epsom Derby on Saturday and could become the first trainer to sweep the two derbies since Roger Charlton won at Epsom with Quest for Fame and at Chantilly with Sanglamore in 1990.

Intello won two minor races at 2 and was impressive making his 3-year-old debut in a listed race at Newmarket in April. A poor outside draw diminished his chances in the Poulains and two spots of traffic spelled doom, but Intello still finished furiously coming home a close third and looking like a horse who will appreciate the added distance he gets Sunday. Intello’s two starts at 3 came over good ground, however, and he was less impressive in one race in heavy conditions last year. Olivier Peslier, who somehow never has won the French Derby, has the mount.

Fabre’s second runner, the Godolphin colt Sky Hunter, has started his career with three minor-race wins, and may be surprised by the large field Sunday, having faced a total of 14 rivals in those three victories.

Six-time French Derby winner Alain de Royer-Dupre has only Shikarpour, a Longchamp maiden winner in his lone start, for this year’s race. The Aga Khan owns Shikarpour, and his stable jockey, Christophe Lemaire, is booked to ride the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Dalwari, a more advanced colt with two wins from his three starts, the last in the Group 3 Prix de Guiche over a similar trip at Chantilly.

Dastarhon was fortunate to hold second over onrushing Intello in the Poulains, and might not see out Sunday’s trip as well as several others. Among those who look more certain to get the distances are Bravodino, Morandi, and Willy the Whipper. Bravodino was closing on Ocovango, Fabre’s Epsom Derby runner, while finishing second in the Prix Greffulhe. Morandi and Willy the Whipper, respectively one-two last fall in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, both are proven on softer going and can improve upon their most recent performances.

French-trained horses have won the last seven French Derbies, but three entrants from Ireland will attempt to break the string. Jim Bolger, who was to send out Epsom Derby favorite Dawn Approach on Saturday, entered two, with Loch Garman, winner of the Group 1 Criterium International last fall at Saint-Cloud, an apparently superior runner to stablemate Beyond Thankful. Team Valor’s First Cornerstone, who will be piloted by Frankie Dettori, was fifth last weekend in the Irish 2000 Guineas, a prep race for his start Sunday in France.

◗ There are four other Group stakes on the card, among them the Group 2 Prix de Chantilly, which attracted Saonois, the longshot winner of the 2012 French Derby.