It being the first Sunday in October this weekend that can only mean one thing, it is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Some of the best racehorses in the world will be on show at Longchamp on Sunday and we might just see history being made. The card has six Group One’s and I am involved in them all.
For those of us here in the UK Sky Sports Racing have full coverage of the card whilst ITV Racing will be on air from 1pm–3.30pm on Sunday showing the first three races.
The going was described as soft early in the week and the forecast rain has arrived and looks likely to stay about over the weekend, it looks a sure thing it will be very soft going today. Charlie Appleby told reporters “The ground is soft out there. Both Frankie and James said it’s holding ground, so we’ll just have to see how things play out. If they open this ground up and that rain arrives, it’s going to be testing tomorrow – you might need a mile-and-a-quarter horse for the Foret! They’re predicting up to 40 millimetres of rain. If that arrives on top of opened-up ground, whether you can find a fresh strip or not, it’ll be heavy – there’s no doubt about it. The only horse I would say will probably like it is Hurricane Lane. He will like soft ground – and it’s going to become a staying race, isn’t it?”
Best bets for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe meeting at Longchamp
1.15 Prix Marcel Boussac - Mile
This is a race that often sees two-year-old fillies with Classic aspirations for next year lining-up and it looks an above average line-up again this year - I held off betting early on this one with an eye on the weather. Andre Fabre was fair and warned everyone that if it got too soft, he wouldn’t run Raclette and she surely won’t be lining-up even though she is still in as I write this morning. She looked the clear pick to me but surely won’t run so a last-minute rethink was required. I have gone with Zellie at 10-1. Two of her three wins have been on very soft which looks a plus. Second behind Fleur D'iris in the G3 Prix d'Aumale over this track and trip 24 days ago she was out the back throughout before coming home very strongly wide and late. Hopefully she can pick them all off down the straight this time.
1.55 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere - 7f
This 7f race for two-year-old colts and fillies is France's most prestigious juvenile race and has been dominated by the home team in recent years; Saeed bin Suroor was the last British-based trainer to train the winner with Royal Marine in 2018 (tipped on here). Hugo Palmer sends Ebro River who was third to my Ante-Post 2,000 Guineas punt Native Trail last time in the 7f G.1 Vincent O'Brien National Stakes and that is considered strong form naturally. This is though his ninth start of the season and that may now be taking its toll. Noble Truth is one I have backed before but this is a step-up from the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes he won last time - I tipped him at 7-2 and he drifted to 9-1! He has talent but also has quirks and might not quite be up to this level yet. Ancient Rome is interesting in the Tabor colours trained by Andre Fabre. By War Front who was high-class over 6-7f on dirt in the States in his day and has become a leading sire he is out of Gagnoa a Tabor owned mare who was a winner over a mile to a mile-and-a-quarter in her racing days in France; also trained by Fabre. Second on debut he has won his subsequent three starts including the G.3 Prix des Chenes over a mile here last time. He took a little while to get going that day but won pretty much hard held in the end. All his runs have been on good-soft or worse ground and with a prominent racing style I wouldn’t be surprised if Mickael Barzalona in the saddle makes this a real test with a couple of the others not sure to get home in testing conditions. I am on at carpet 3-1 that I took earlier this week. Accakaba is the only filly to line-up and she is feared getting the 3lb allowance.
3.05 Group One 1m4f Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - 1m4f
Godolphin have not had a winner in the Arc since 2002 somewhat surprisingly but have a very strong hand this year. William Buick has chosen Adayar as his Arc mount and the colt apparently went well in his gallop following a setback that prevented his running in the G2 Prix Niel two weeks ago. An interrupted preparation is never a good thing but he is a Derby and KGVI & QEII Stakes winner and you can’t ignore stats like that.
I am on Hurricane Lane ante-post at 8-1 and I am relatively happy. I know he has had a busy season, and no horse has ever done the St Leger/Arc double in the same year, but he is a class act and clearly a very tough colt. I am not trying to say he had an easy race in the St Leger but to my eyes he cruised to victory at Doncaster and Buick was little more than keeping him up to his work after he took over two-furlongs out. He is a course and distance winner having won the G.1 Grand Prix de Paris by six-lengths on very-soft going and as all reports suggests he is raring to go he ticks a lot of boxes. Another big plus for me is that James Doyle will be able to put the colt anywhere in the field depending on where his cards fall which could prove very advantageous in a race where there are often hard luck stories. Trainer Charlie Appleby said on www.godolphin.com last Sunday “After discussions after the gallops yesterday, we’re very confident that if we have a good week this week, we have two horses going to the Arc in great shape. We’re excited, with this being the 100th Arc, having two colts going into it with the profiles they have. Adayar, an impressive Derby winner, who went on to win the King George, and Hurricane Lane, who could create history by winning the St Leger and the Arc, something that hasn’t been done (in the same year). There is a bit of rain forecast during the week, and that will suit us,” Appleby said. "the only negative I can give regarding Hurricane Lane’s participation is were it to become fast ground. That would (then) be a discussion that would have to take place nearer the time.”
James Doyle will ride and he was in bullish mood earlier this week. “It can’t have been an easy decision for Will. There’s not much between the two. It’s exciting,” the jockey said. “He’s proven on soft ground. It won’t worry him and the trip is fine. Back to a mile and a half should be perfect. He’s won the Grand Prix de Paris round there, so he’s had a good look at the place before.”
The biggest dangers to the Godolphin duo look likely be the two big name fillies in the line-up. Snowfall suffered her first defeat of the season on Arc trials day two weeks ago and you can’t help but wonder is her season has caught up with her. Last year's G.1 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, tipped on here and a member of the Dirty Dozen this season, Tarnawa has proved herself at Longchamp with two Group One wins at the track the G.1 Prix Vermeille over C&D and the G.1 Prix de l'Opera over the 1m2f on last years card before her trip across the pond. Having won a G.3 at Leopardstown on her seasonal debut she was just held by the now retired St Marks Basilica last time in the G.1 Irish Champion Stakes coming as close as any horse has to beating that colt this season. She has winning form on ground ranging from heavy to firm. Unusually for me I am now on two in the race as I have backed the five-year-old filly as well at 11-4 that I took on Wednesday.
My two selections are well drawn which is a bonus, Hurricane Lane in two and Tarnawa in three – hopefully they won’t trip each other up! Love has been declared a non-runner this morning with a vet’s certificate after she developed a temperature during Saturday afternoon.
3.50 Prix de Opera - 1m2f
This 1m2f contest for fillies and mares aged three and above was won by Tarnawa last year. I think this might be the most competitive race on the card with several in with a chance. Audarya was third last year and is top-rated of those lining-up this season despite having not won this year; she was out battled and beat on the line in the G.1 Prix Jean Romanet Stakes by Grand Glory; Thundering Nights third. G.1 Prix de Diane winner Joan Of Arc returns to the 1m2f trip having failed to stay over 1m4f in the G.1 Prix Vermeille three weeks ago. She had a strange trip there wide early for no real reason and getting a bump or two in the straight before not getting home. She has half-a-length to find on Zeyaadah from their Nassau Stakes meeting at Goodwood but Moore perhaps went for home a little early that day and the tank emptied in the final few yards. At 8-1 I think she is the value and is the tentative pick. Arguably her best run of the season being on heavy in the Irish 1,000 Guineas when second.
4.25 Prix de l'Abbaye - 5f
The draw on the straight track is often said to favour those drawn low which adds to this puzzle a little this year with all the fancies horses drawn high! British and Irish-trained horses have a cracking record in this and Winter Power, is reported to be in fine shape by Tim Easterby the trainer saying earlier this week. “With a bit of luck she can repeat her Nunthorpe performance in France.” She did disappoint in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh earlier this month though that was won by Romantic Proposal and this ground is probably softer than ideal. A Case Of You was second in the G.1 Flying Five Stakes won by Romantic Proposal last time beaten just half-a-length but has to give the fillies weight. He is drawn in stall five on the favoured low side. Glass Slippers, third in the Flying Five, won this on soft in 2019 but all her other wins have been on faster going. She is also well held by Suesa on the G.2 Qatar Stakes form from the summer. The Francois Rohaut trained filly looks a real contender on her home turf this year though she was beaten fair and square by Winter Power in the Nunthorpe on her last start. The French filly does have the best form on softer going though. Everything taken into consideration, and a number of these are clearly closely matched, I have gone with the jolly even though the 9-4 I took on Saturday is short enough, as she ticks more boxes than the opposition.
5.00 Group One 7f Prix de la Foret - 7f
With no seven-furlong Group One in Britain this is often targeted by the intermediate distance specialists; William Haggas has farmed it for the last three years with his 1,540-yard expert One Master. Old favourite of mine and member of the Dirty Dozen Space Blues has been sent across the Channel and can win this to add some icing on the cake for Charlie Appleby and the team. He won the G.2 City Of York Stakes last time having been surprisingly, I thought, been beaten at Goodwood in the G.2 Lennox. I took 9-4 on Thursday as I am convinced an on-song Space Blues wins the lucky last. The going is a slight concern but it's the same for most of this field though Sagamiyra is feared with form when soft underhoof.Be lucky