By Jon Lees
GB: Ralph Beckett has booked jockey-of-the-moment Ioritz Mendizabal to ride his first Derby Italiano challenger Fabilis this weekend.
Mendizabal enhanced his reputation as a super-sub when stepping in for the suspended Pierre-Charles Boudot to steer St Mark’s Basilica to victory in last Sunday’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
Last year the 47-year-old, champion jockey in France four times, proved he was a safe pair of hands for visiting trainers when winning the Prix du Jockey Club on Mishriff and the Prix Jean Romanet on Audarya.
He will travel to Rome’s Cappanelle racecourse on Sunday to try to clinch the €630,000 (£540,000) European Classic on the Juddmonte-owned Fabilis, a 96-rated son of Frankel who finished second in a 1m2f handicap on his first turf start of the year.
Mendizabal wasn’t Beckett’s first choice but regular stable rider Rossa Ryan has to fulfil a commitment at home.
“This horse was entered in the Italian Derby, ran well at Sandown and as Teddy Grimthorpe pointed out, despite the cost of getting to Rome, it made more sense to go there and run for that sort of money, than for £6,500 at Haydock this weekend, which was the alternative.
“He is the right sort of horse to go as well, in terms of constitution. He’s a hardy beggar and the trip won’t bother him.”
Beckett added: “I was quite keen to take Rossa Ryan down there. He has to go to Nottingham for his retainer. That’s why we booked Monsieur Mendizabal.”
Despite the impact of Brexit on horse travel, Beckett said he has found the challenge of shipping a horse to Italy straightforward.
“It was no more difficult than it was pre-Brexit, unlike Paris, which is significantly more difficult,” he said. “Bizarrely you can take your staff to Rome but not to Paris.”
• Visit Ralph Beckett’s website