Past Winners » Lope De Vega


Lope De Vega is a fair bit too big at 16/1 for this afternoon’s Prix du Jockey Club in my book, and he is worth backing at that. The Shamardal colt won his first two starts last season, and then ran well enough to finish fourth behind Siyouni in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, traditionally the best juvenile colts’ race on the French calendar and a strong race last year, on his final start last season, when he was, not insignificantly, sent off as favourite.

He stepped up hugely on that performance, however, to win the French 2000 Guineas last time, overcoming a disadvantageous draw in stall 15 and showing an impressive turn of foot to take it up inside the furlong marker before staying on strongly to win well. The form of that race is rock solid with the continually under-rated Dick Turpin, who beat all except Makfi in the Newmarket Guineas, back in second, with potentially high class performers like Poet’s Voice, Siyouni and Meezaan well back.

There is a slight doubt about Lope De Vega getting the extra two and a half furlongs today, but it is only slight. His sire won this race in 2005, he got the trip well, and Lope De Vega is out of a mare by Vettori (a stamina influence) and he is a half-brother to Bal De La Rose, who won a Group 3 race over 10 furlongs in Lyon on soft ground. Also, the manner in which he stayed on at the end of a mile at Longchamp last time gives him every chance.

He has again been poorly drawn in stall 20. A high draw in France is an outside draw, and they start turning to the (right) after about a furlong and a half from the 10-and-a-half-furlong start at Chantilly, but it is still not an insurmountable obstacle …

This is a good race, it looks like a top notch French Derby, but Lope De Vega is the only Group 1 winner in the race, and he shouldn’t be a 16/1 shot. It is probable that Ladbrokes have over-reacted to his ostensibly poor draw. He is lightly-raced and he is progressive, and he should run a big race.

Simon De Montfort, Behkabad and Ice Blue are all players, but Planteur is the biggest danger for me if the rains arrive, and there are some thunderstorms forecast, although it is not certain if they will hit the racecourse or not. Planteur looked good in beating Rewilding in the Group 2 Prix Noailles on his latest start, quickening up nicely to go clear two furlongs out before being eased down to win by a cosy length and a half. All four of his runs have been on easy ground and, as a son of Danehill Dancer, he will probably be better on easy ground than he will be under good or fast conditions. Best odds of 11/2 this morning would be too big if the rains arrive.

LOPE DE VEGA WON (ADV 16/1 [R4], SP 10/1)