The Qatar Prix du Jockey Club can now be added to the list of global Group 1 races won by Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien following the decisive victory of St Mark’s Basilica at Chantilly on Sunday.
St Mark’s Basilica, owned by the Coolmore partners, was claiming his second French Classic of the season having won the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Longchamp last month under Ioritz Mendizabal, who was again handed riding responsibilities for the son of Siyouni‘s first run over an extended ten-furlong trip.
A low draw is always an advantage on the round course at Chantilly and Mendizabal made excellent use of St Mark’s Basilica’s berth in stall two, breaking well and moving forward to sit just behind the pace on the rail as Normandy Bridge and the Roger Varian-trained El Drama set the early fractions.
Turning for home, St Mark’s Basilica was still hard on the bridle as one by one his rivals came under pressure. The only question was whether or not he would find an opening.
When Normandy Bridge moved off the rail, Mendizabal guided his charge through the gap and from then on it was plain sailing. St Mark’s Basilica ran on strongly to see off Sealiway by a length and three quarters, the same winning margin as the Poulains, with Millebosc a short-head back in third place.
St Mark’s Basilica now has a most attractive profile for a stallion, having secured Group 1s over three different distances, including in the Dewhurst Stakes (7f) as a two-year-old. Bred by Robert Scarborough, he was purchased for 1.3 million guineas at Tattersalls’ Book 1 Yearling Sale in 2019.
Mendizabal, 47, was enjoying his second successive Prix du Jockey Club victory after partnering Mishriff to victory last year. He also triumphed on Vision d’Etat in 2008.
Earlier on the Chantilly card, In Swoop underlined his credentials for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October with a cosy victory in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly (1m4f) under Olivier Peslier.