The Derby is the most famous flat race in the world, the Dubai World Cup the richest but, arguably, the most prestigious is Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe from Longchamp.
In recent years three-year-olds have held sway winning 14 of the last 17 renewals including such greats of the turf as Montjeu in 1999, Zarkava in 2008 and Sea The Stars in 2009.
Last year’s winner Workforce is in the field again and has a similar profile to 12-months ago coming into the race on the back of a lay off following defeat in the King George at Ascot. The drying ground is a concern for the Sir Michael Stoute 4-y-o, despite having broken the track record at Epsom last summer in the Derby, and the ground was officially very soft when he landed the corresponding race last year.
Jockey Ryan Moore is due back in the saddle on Friday at Ascot before being reunited with Workforce in Paris following a spill at Glorious Goodwood which has kept him out of action since the end of July.
No four 4-y-o filly has won the race since Urban Sea (mother of Sea The Stars) back in 1993 but the current market leader Sarafina (3.15) will be looking to buck that trend having finished an unlucky third last year.
It was hard not to be impressed by the manner of her success in the Prix Foy last month when beating last year’s Arc runner up Nakayama Festa and St Nicholas Abbey more comfortably than the winning margin would suggest. She has been laid out for the race all year and is the one to beat although if the ground became rattling fast her ability to handle such conditions would have to be taken on trust.
The Ballydoyle Aussie import So You Think (3.15) is a fascinating contender; I’d always considered the horse a 10f specialist and felt the Champion Stakes was his for the taking at Ascot later in the month but connections have opted to step up to 12f for the first time in Europe. Do note he didn’t get home over 2m in the Melbourne Cup last autumn but the colt travelled all over his rivals on that occasion and, with a fast pace, guaranteed he is given the nod at a trip which, arguably, could be his optimum.
It has been a great season for the classic generation, but their Arc challenge is thin on the ground with the half-sister to the mighty Goldikova Galikova considered the best of the 3-y-olds. Runner up in the French Oaks she landed the Prix Vermeille last month on Trials Day where she improved for the step up to 12f for the first time.
We will be betting 1/3 odds 1, 2, 3 in the Arc from Friday at 6pm and currently bet:
Arc prices: 1/3 1, 2, 3 from 6pm Friday: prices from
So You Think 7/2
If you think the race is too hard to call you may be more interested in which horse will be returned favourite?
Who will go off industry favourite SP? Prices from
So You Think 11/8
Any Other horse 5/1
Dabirism (1.55) will have to learn to settle if he is to get a mile next year, but he was very impressive when landing the Morny last time and he can take his unbeaten record to five in the big 2-y-old race for colts’. His cause will be helped by the fact that Salure has only one way of racing and that’s to go from the front.
The 7f Prix de la Foret is a terrific race with wonder-mare Goldikova looking for her 15th success at Group 1 level; only one of those victories, however, has come over this trip and that was in this corresponding race last year. I hope there is enough give in the ground to allow Dream Ahead (2.30) to put his best hoof forward and he is taken to lower the colours of the great mare who has her pacemaker in the field to ensure a true test.
I have always been a fan of the unbeaten Nahrain (4.45) and hope she can make the transition to the top table as she steps up to 10f for the first time. She was reportedly sick after her Sandown victory last time hence her three-month absence from the track. This is not the strongest of Group 1’s and she can cause a shock.
Bannock (4.00 Redcar) has been given a two-month break since contesting many of the better juvenile races in the first part of the season; there is every chance he has been laid out for the valuable Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar by Mark Johnston and he receives weight from many of the principles.
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