Saonois proves shock winner of French Derby

Saonois led home a French 1-2-3 in the French Derby on Sunday as the surprise winner won in a blanket finish at Chantilly to give jockey Antoine Hamelin victory just months after turning professional.

It was also a first classic win for trainer Jean-Pierre Gauvin.

Saonois came from almost last on the final straight to win a rough contest that saw Saturday's Epsom Derby winning team of trainer Aidan O'Brien and son and jockey Joseph foiled in their attempt at a Derby double with Imperial Monarch

Imperial Monarch had a dreadful run and by the time the 20 runners entered the finishing straight, he, like Saonois, was at the back of the field.

However, while Hamelin chose to thread his way through the field down the centre of the track, O'Brien went wide, but while he made some headway, it was only good enough to finish just outside the placings.

Up ahead, Hamelin had somehow succeeded in wending his way to the front and fought out a thrilling finish with Andre Fabre's Saint Baudolino, under Maxime Guyon, and Nutello, trained by Chantilly-based Spaniard Carlos Laffon-Parias, who was third.

Gauvin, who trains 35 horses near Lyon, had to be shepherded off the track as his excitement got the better of him in the closing stages and he ran on to give his runner encouragement from closer up.

Race favourite French Fifteen, second to Epsom Derby winner Camelot in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, was another who never had any chance as he found himself behind a wall of horses on the straight.


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