Imperial Fighter aims for French Derby glory at Chantilly

Andrew Balding’s Imperial Fighter will bid for Classic honours again when he takes his chance in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday.

The colt was last seen finishing third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh in late May, coming home two and a half lengths behind Godolphin’s English Guineas runner-up Native Trail.

The French Derby represents a step up in trip for the bay son of The Gurkha, something Balding feels will be of benefit to him as he runs over an extended 10 furlongs for the first time.

“We thought he ran very well in the Irish Guineas, that was an encouraging performance from him,” said Balding.

“This race is a step up in trip to a mile and a quarter, which we feel will work well.

“We’re really looking forward to running him.”

Charlie Appleby’s Modern Games took the French Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, on his first start of the season and will represent the stable again and begin his race from stall 13.

“Sunday’s going to be an exciting day with the French Derby, Modern Games is heading there off the back of his French Guineas win,” Appleby told

“He’s a rock-solid little horse, he does nothing but try to please us at home and his preparation has gone very well.

“He’s stepping up to a mile and a quarter and we’re confident that should be well within his compass, he’s a very genuine little horse.

“He goes in there with a Classic profile behind him.”

The British flag will also be flown by James Ferguson’s El Bodegon, who was disappointing in the Dante on his seasonal debut after a two-year-old campaign in which he was a Group One winner.

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for both of the Irish-trained contenders, The Acropolis and Ivy League, ridden by Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore respectively.

The leading French-trained threat is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Al Hakeem, unbeaten at the track in three runs, with the trainer also set to run Prix de Guiche winner Vadeni and the fifth and sixth-placed horses in the French Guineas, Lassaut and Welwal.

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