It being the first Sunday in October this weekend that can only mean one thing, it is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Some of the best racehorses in the world will be on show at Longchamp on Sunday and we might just see history being made.
ITV are covering the first four races including the big one at 3.05. I will look at the rest of the card on a separate post, here I will concentrate on the Group One the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Firstly I have to touch on the fact Crystal Ocean sadly won’t be here after the five-year-old sustained a leg injury during a routine exercise in Newmarket last month. He will be off to Stud all being well and good luck to him. As for the big race itself, my thoughts follow.
I have two ante-post bets running on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe this year.
Enable at 6-4 placed in July and Ghaiyyath at 16-1 each-way placed back in April; at this risk of cursing myself I am quietly confident at this time. Perhaps I should have a forecast!
Treve is the only horse to have attempted the treble in the history of the Arc. She finished fourth in her attempt back in 2015 with, somewhat ironically, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori being the party poopers winning the race with Golden Horn. Can their wonder mare get the job done? Enable loves this trip and her entire season has been geared around getting her here for the historic treble bid. She arrives arguably better than ever and you can see why she is now odds-on. Her 'wide' draw in stall nine would be regarded as fine in a normal-sized Arc field so I haven’t been losing sleep other that. I think she can surpass the likes of Treve, Alleged and Ribot and become the first thoroughbred to win the Arc three times.
Big race jockey Frankie Dettori knows just how big this could be. “She will leave a legacy that will make her immortal and that’s my inspiration – to achieve something that has not been done before. She’s an unbelievable horse and she has captured the imagination of the whole world. It’s not going to be an easy task but it’s going to be an amazing race. She’s going to have to be at her very best but fingers crossed we get the job done… Let’s hope that I don’t mess up!”
Enable’s trainer, John Gosden, says the star mare has even more to offer. Talking exclusively to Sky Sports Racing’s Jason Weaver earlier this week he said “When she was younger she would run with unhindered exuberance, now she’s got a little older and wiser she’s very much like the boxer who knows how to win on points rather than going straight in for the immediate knock-out. I think she’s wiser and Frankie (Dettori) knows her really well and they have won their races without being really fully extended this year.”
Ghaiyyath came bang back into the reckoning after his very impressive win in the 1m4f G.1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden. He has won at Longchamp over the 1m2f course twice, his win in the G.2 Prix d'Harcourt being another very impressive performance, and following his win in Germany is now rated 127, just 1lb lower than Enable (gives her 3lb). If there is a horse in the line-up to trouble the super mare he might just be it, and I am not saying that just because I am on them both. Stall 12 of 12 aint helped but in a smaller than usual field it isn’t an utter disaster.
William Buick said in the build-up this week talking about his mounts win at Baden-Baden "It was a solid German Group 1 – German Derby and Oaks form – and you have to respect those big races there. Remember Danedream won the Grosser Preis von Baden before she won the Arc, and she wasn't the first. On top of that Ghaiyyath won it by 14 lengths with what was a pretty devastating performance – and from a layoff on ground that was quick and rough and not what he would really enjoy. He'll appreciate getting on the nicer ground at Longchamp, I'm sure of that, and I wouldn't say he's one-dimensional. If the pace is satisfactory there's no reason he wouldn't take a lead, but if it isn't there's no reason we wouldn't go on and do our thing. I think he's flexible. "
Japan gets the weight-for-age of course but it is only 6lb at this time of year from the older colts and 3lb from the mares. As good as he has looked at times that means he still has to improve again by around three or four pound to get passed Enable.
Ballydoyle stablemate Magical has seen the backside of Enable four times now and it is hard to put up a case for her finally getting the better of her old rival. For me, she is the price she is as the bookies don’t want to be laying her each-way.
Sottsass heads the home defence and he has done little wrong this season having won the G.1 Prix du Jockey Club and his prep race the G.2 Prix Niel but this is a step-up again. Like Japan he gets the age-allowance but the draw was perhaps unkind to him giving him stall one as he is more of a hold-up type and won’t want too much daylight early.
Waldgeist had his prep for another tilt at Europe’s premier middle-distance prize with a hands and heels success in the G.2Prix Foy. The draw was kind to him (no conspiracy theories here about the French horse getting the better draw) as he breaks from stall three. Andre Fabre knows what he is up against though saying after his last run “Obviously he will come up against Enable again and what can we say about her? If Enable runs to her usual level of form in the Arc then she is going to be very hard to beat again. We’ve run against her three times and she has won each of them. Can we beat her? I don’t know, it’s the same for everyone.”
French King is the one that has perhaps snuck in underrated being unbeaten this year. He gained his first win in Qatar in February and has since won three times in Germany, the last being the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten. This is a lot harder.
The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Soft Light was supplemented on Wednesday morning. Having finished four lengths behind Japan in the Grand Prix de Paris in July he looks unlikely to get involved in the finish.
Nagano Gold is another that looks up against it having never won above Listed level, his career-best performance being when second to Defoe in the G.2 Hardwicke Stakes this year.
Japanese hopes this year for the race they want to win perhaps more than any other are Kiseki and Blast Onepiece and Fierement; I think it is safe to say the wait will go on for the land of the rising sun.