Jean Claude Rouget unearths new Classic star as Ace Impact lands French Derby

O’Brien team finishes eighth in Prix du Jockey Club with Continuous but sixth success for winning French trainer

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore’s hopes of a Derby double in Paris on Sunday were dashed as their hope Continuous was well beaten behind brilliantly impressive local winner in Ace Impact.

The unbeaten son of Cracksman delivered a searing burst of finishing speed to brush aside the favourite Big Rock and deliver trainer Jean Claude Rouget a sixth success in the €1.5 million Qatar Prix du Jockey Club.

It was a spectacular success for the 19-2 winner who had three and a half lengths in hand at the line under jockey Cristian Demuro.

Continuous tracked the pace-forcing Big Rock into the straight but quickly faded and finished eighth. Frankie Dettori, on his final French Derby ride, was fifth on Epictetus.


Ace Impact was quickly made a 10-1 shot with some firms for October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where he could clash with Ballydoyle’s Auguste Rodin who won the Derby at Epsom on Saturday.

Rouget has dominated the Jockey Club with five wins in the last eight years including with the subsequent Arc hero Sottsass.

“These are special moments. I’ve only once won this race with a favourite, and almost always from the position of challenger,” he said following victory for Ace Impact who made his debut at Cagnes Sur Mer in late January.

“I thought I saw something in him when he won at Cagnes in the winter. I feel sorry for the runner-up because he’s a very good horse to have. But he’s been beaten by a better one,” said Rouget.

The top French trainer added: “I thought he had the potential to do it. Secretly I was very optimistic. We don’t know the limits of the horse. He only had the three quiet races.”

Rouget didn’t have firm plans for his new three-year-old star but Ace Impact is entered in the Eclipse at Sandown, a race the trainer won last year with Vadeni.

Irish fixtures

Elsewhere, the bumper bank holiday weekend action continues with two more Irish fixtures on Monday.

Listowel winds up three days of action with a jumps card where the prolific Easy Game tries to repeat his success of 2022 in a conditions chase.

He won’t be a 1-6 favourite this time, however, having to concede weight to some decent opposition. They include giving 17lbs to Hurricane Georgie who with Ben Harvey’s valuable 5lb claim on top might emerge the winner.

Gowran has a flat programme where the Newtown Anner Stud will be focused on a nine-furlong maiden.

Dermot Weld introduces a regally bred newcomer in Knight To King, a half-brother to the top-class Ghaiyyath. Newton Anner’s other runner, Mr King, is a gelded half-brother to Thunder Kiss who was twice placed at Group One level.

Later on the card, Sir Antonio, who is owned by Spanish international footballer, Alvaro Odriozola, should relish quick ground conditions in a handicap.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column