Day two of the monster weekend of horse racing and it’s all about Chantilly Sunday for Triple G. The Arc Trials were not that kind to me so all being well I shall be nicking that bit of cash back and then some on Sunday when the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe takes centre stage. We have six Group One races to get our teeth into. The weather forecast suggests Chantilly could be pretty wet with rain anticipated on and off throughout Arc day so it will likely be at the very least on the soft side of good. They put the running rail out by 12 metres for Saturday's card and will move it back for Sunday guaranteeing fresh ground for the runners on Arc day. "We want to ensure that the runners in the Arc will all be running in the best conditions and that there can be no argument that there is any advantage in one part of the course over another." said Chantilly clerk of the course Matthieu Vincent earlier this week.
We get underway at 1.10 with the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac for the 2YO fillies over the mile. Happily runs later today leaving Magical as the main hope for Ballydoyle and she has a chance. I think though this could go to the home team and Freddie Head with his Polydream having been impressive in her two wins at Deauville thus far, the last being the G.3 Prix du Calvados over seven on the soft. I have the 5-4.
We stick on the 7f 209y course for the Group One Prix Jean Luc Lagardere at 1.45 for the 2YO colts & fillies. This was a real head scratcher in the run-up with a number of horses possible runners. Godolphin owned, Charlie Appleby trained Masar looks to be the one off the back of the chestnut colts win in the G.3 Solario Stakes at Sandown over seven. The son of New Approach has progressed with each run and hopefully has more to give again. I have 9-4. Happily has been given the task of taking on the boys having been taken out of the Boussac and is feared.
I am leaving the Arab race alone so we wait for the big one the the Group One Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is due off at 3.05. The moment Enable crossed the line four-and-a-half lengths clear of Ulysses in the G.1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes back on the 29th July I should have backed her. I had talked my mate John into backing her that Saturday at our annual trip to the Oval for the cricket the day before and a text conversation ensued on the Sunday saying I would enter her for the Arc and she should be backed to win it. Connections talked of other possible targets, she was not of course officially in the race until supplemented on Wednesday, and I held off – MISTAKE! The filly subsequently strolled home in the G.1 Yorkshire Oaks. She gets 4lb off the 3YO boys and 10lb off the older horses plus she has won on going ranging from good-soft to good-firm so unless there is rain of biblical proportions all should be fine. My biggest concern was whether she’d cop for a draw in the car park but stall two is not too bad at all she can follw the early pace or for that matter set it. I have the Evens that was about briefly on Thursday. Ulysses is a horse I like but there is no reason to believe he can reverse the King George form. Ryan Moore has opted for Winter out of the Ballydoyle runners but I just cant understand why ‘the lads’ are running her over 1m4f. My stato mate tells me the last horse to win the Arc on their first try at a mile and a half was back in 1990 when Saumarez won. Talking of ‘the lads’ Order of St George won’t be beaten for lack of trying but the one that might follow the star filly home is the German runner and Prix Foy winner Dschingis Secret who won’t mind getting his toe in.
The mile-and-a-quarter Group One Prix De L'Opera is at 3.50. Winter headed the ante-post market at around 3-1 but she runs later leaving this looking like a very good opportunity for Rhododendron to get back to winning ways before a trip to the Breeders Cup. She was given anything but a hard ride in the G.1 Matron Stakes won by Hydrangea on her return to the track clearly with other targets in mind. Ryan Moore has chosen Hydrangea but I am still convinced there is a big race win or two in Rhododendron and im equally sure 1m2f will be her ideal trip. I have taken what was the standout 8-1 with Paddy Power on Friday.
The speedsters are out at 4.35 for the Group One Prix de L’Abbye over the five furlongs (4f 213y to be precise). Marsha has run well on soft ground before but the feeling is she is better on a sounder surface. Both Battaash and Signs Of Blessing have big-race wins on soft ground but I think Battaash really wants good ground. Of the three Signs Of Blessing is the one that really won’t mind any further rain with wins against his name on very soft and I think the French gelding is the one least likely to be inconvenienced by the going especially if we get a downpour and for that reason I have taken the 9-2.
The lucky last at 5.15 is the Group One Prix de Foret over a yard or two short of seven furlongs. Limato will not defend his crown due to the soft ground. I am not convinced Zelzal wants it too soft either which brings me to Martyn Meade trained Aclaim. He does have form on soft including when wining a G.2 at Doncaster earlier this month. At 3-1 he is a good a punt as any in a tight contest, Karar for the home team is feared.
And that’s that, it’s going to be a long 48 hours but hopefully profitable – see you on the other side.