Diego Velazquez to spearhead Aidan O’Brien’s French Derby challenge at Chantilly

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Diego Velazquez To Spearhead Aidan Obriens French Derby Challenge At

Diego Velazquez is Aidan O’Brien’s chief hope of winning a second Qatar Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday.

Impressive in his first two juvenile starts, the Frankel colt disappointed on his final appearance at two in the Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, but his trainer is happy to “put a line through” that run as he feels he became upset by his unruly stablemate Battle Cry, who was ultimately withdrawn.

The Ballydoyle handler, who broke his French Derby duck with St Mark’s Basilica in 2021, believes Diego Velazquez is better judged on his comeback run at ParisLongchamp, where he was beaten just a length into fourth place in the French 2000 Guineas, teeing him up perfectly for a second French Classic tilt this weekend.

“That’s what we thought, our other horse got upset. He had to be taken out and obviously Diego was left in the race, and he got upset as well,” O’Brien said of his Doncaster effort in a France Galop media call on Tuesday.

“We just felt that being left in the stalls, we should have probably withdrew him. The ground was very soft as well that day. We kind of put a line through it.

“We were very happy with the run in the French Guineas. We always thought he would run a very nice race and we always thought the step up to mile and a quarter would suit him well. We were delighted to go to Longchamp because it is obviously right-handed like Chantilly.

“We felt these two races would suit him well and we were very happy with the way he came out of the French Guineas and happy with everything he has done since.”

With Diego Velazquez having failed to fire in the mud at Doncaster, O’Brien is hoping there is not too much rain at Chantilly ahead of his latest big-race test.

He added: “Obviously he is a very good mover so the better the ground, the better it would suit him.

“We thought he would probably want good, fast ground as you can see when you see him gallop he has a very low, long action.

“Hopefully the ground won’t be soft and will improve (before Sunday). Definitely the better the ground, the better his chance.”

Diego Velazquez is set to be joined by stablemate Cambridge, who so far this season has finished fourth in both the Craven Stakes at Newmarket and the Dante at York.

“Cambridge is a solid horse. Hopefully he can get a mile and quarter very well and he will handle an ease in the ground,” said O’Brien.

“We always thought he was a solid Group horse. Obviously our number one horse would be Diego Velazquez and Cambridge will be number two. He’s a very solid and straightforward horse really.

“He has a different action to Diego, he bends his knee a little bit. He might not be as quick as Diego, but he will definitely handle the soft ground a little bit better.”