Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with seven to follow on Saturday and Sunday along with a full preview of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Arc Day remains the highlight of the flat racing calendar for me and we have a wonderful weekend of racing to look forward to in Britain, Ireland but especially France.
We start at Longchamp and since 1994 three-year-olds have been successful in the Grand Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe sixteen times and I think the classic generation will hold sway again tomorrow as the best middle distance turf horses in the world converge on Paris.
Twelve months ago Treve turned the race into a procession, despite being trapped wide and pulling hard, beating the 5-y-o Japanese superstar Orfevre 5L in receipt of 11lbs (including fillies’ allowance) as 3-y-olds dominated the race with four of the first five home. The French filly has disappointed in three starts so far this season, however, and history is against her following up.
No horse has won the Arc back-to-back since Alleged in 1997/8 and it would be a surprise if she were able to buck that trend given her performance in the Prix Vermeille last time was laboured at best. She is out to 10/1 at BetVictorand is hard to make a case for on this season’s form.
I like lightly-raced progressive three-year-olds in the race and step forward last month’s Prix Niel winner Ectot (5/1 at BetVictor) who showed a devastating turn of foot to sweep to the front two out before idling on Trials’ Day in the fastest time of the day. The colt has only tasted defeat once, on debut, and his trainer Elie Lellouche has already saddled Helissio (1996) to do the Niel/Arc double a feat also achieved by Ectot’s sire Hurricane Run in 2005. His draw in stall 10 could have been better but could have been worse and it looks as if all ground comes alike to the colt.
Oaks winner Taghrooda is out to 11/2 having been drawn in 15 (of 20) and a low number is preferable especially in such a big field. She lost her unbeaten record to Tapestry (the mount of Ryan Moore) at York last time and significant rain (heavy showers forecast Saturday evening) would be less than ideal given she is a daughter of Sea The Stars who put up one of the great Arc performances when winning the race back in 2009.
Unbeaten dual French classic winner Avenir Certain (8/1 at BetVictor) returned from a two-month break to beat a modest field in Group 2 at Deauville last time when not carrying a penalty for either of her classic successes. Zarkava did the Pouliches-Prix de Diane-Arc hat-trick back in 2008 and Avenir Certain must go close if her stamina holds out but that is a big if and she is reluctantly overlooked despite a cracking draw in stall one.
We will have a Japanese winner of the great race sooner rather than later and Harp Star (8/1 at BetVictor) must enter calculations having returned from a short break to land the Group 2 Sapporo Kinen back in August beating odds on favourite Gold Ship (16s). Harp Star’s sire Deep Impact and Orfevre have finished placed in the race for Japan in recent years with the latter’s defeat at the hands of Solemia still hard to stomach two years on.
The best of the Japanese and indeed the older horses could be Just A Way despite having to prove his stamina. The 5-y-old has never won beyond 10f but his 4L defeat of Gentildonna over 10f last October was a magnificent performance and one franked a month later when the runner up landed the Japan Cup under Ryan Moore.
It is Ecot for France for me with the fillies’ Taghrooda and Tapestry to follow him home.
Top class card from Ascot today and Muthmir (2.05) must take the beating in the opening Rous Stakes having put up a stunning performance in the Portland at Doncaster last time. Connections were considering supplementing him for the Abbeye but if in the same mood as last time he will be very hard to beat.
Enke (2.40) is 5lbs better off with Pether’s Moon for the length he beat the former Leger winner at Goodwood back in August. That was the selection’s first start for 685 days and he has subsequently finished third in the Irish Leger behind Brown Panther.
Dungannon has slipped to an attractive mark and this dual C&D winner can land the finale back on a straight course and reunited with Oisin Murphy for the first time since they teamed up to win at Doncaster back in October. There are a couple of showers forecast and the more the merrier.
The Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar looks at the mercy of Limato (2/1 at BetVictor) despite the fact that he faces 22 rivals. The juvenile is unbeaten in three starts including when beating Cotai Glory at Newbury last time. The latter lines up in the Abbeye at Longchamp tomorrow, having unseated jockey George Baker with the race at his mercy in the Group 2 Flying Childers at Doncaster last time.
There are three jumps cards tomorrow in Britain and Famousandfearless (4.30) constitutes the bet of the weekend at Uttoxeter having scrambled home at Plumpton last time against a mare (Jewellery) who finished runner up at Sedgefield over an inadequate 2m last time. The 6-y-old would not want significant rain but as long as he gets good ground he is taken to defy a 5lb rise.
Sergeant Mattie (4.00) was a winning pointer back in his native Ireland and can make a winning start to his chasing career for Charlie Longsdon in the Beginners’ Chase. At Huntingdon Emma Lavelle’s The Last Night (2.25) can put behind a poor run at Market Rasen last time now that the yard have turned the corner and Rogue Dancer (5.15) has been given a break since finishing third at Market Rasen at the beginning of August when his jumping let him down at a crucial time. He goes well fresh and the two-month absence is considered a positive.
Tipperary host a terrific mixed card and I hope the rains arrive for Big Break in the Concorde Stakes a race she finished runner up 12-months ago to Sruthan who reopposes on 3lbs worse terms. The selection is not the start she suggested she might be as a juvenile but she travelled like a good horse when fourth in a better race on her reappearance and the combination of fast ground and first-time blinkers didn’t help last time.
Rebel Fitz (3.50) and trainer Michael Winters are both stars in my eyes and they can team up for the Istabraq Hurdle a race he was beaten in two years ago by Captain Cee Bee. The tissue price I have seen quoted is 5/4 and I suggest that is very attractive.