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Arc Preview: UK mob-handed in Paris showpiece

Posted on | September 21, 2017 | No Comments

With less than two weeks to go until one of the key flat racing highlights of the 2017 international calendar, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe takes place at Chantilly on Sunday 1st October.

For the layman, ‘The Arc’ as its affectionately known, is a Group 1 race over one mile and four furlongs, that brings together some of the finest equine talents from all over the globe, and is widely regarded as Europe’s most prestigious horse race. The Arc offers the chance for the finest three-year-olds of the current season an opportunity to take on older rivals in a ‘battle of the ages’ to determine ultimate supremacy.

Some of the true greats of racing’s recent past have taken glory in the French capital in the last twenty years including Montjeu, Sinndar, Sea The Stars, along with home superstar, Treve being a double winner back in 2013/14. Irish raider, Found took the honours last year for Aiden O’Brien as the four-year-old claimed the event in dramatic fashion.

Red hot

The current ante post hot favourite is Enable, trained by John Gosden, who has carried all before her so far in 2017. The three-year-old filly shot to stardom at Epsom by overcoming odds-on jolly Rhododendron in the English Oaks. A five-length destruction of the O’Brien hotpot showed that owner Khalid Abdullah had a potential superstar on his hands. Enable was next seen at the Curragh in the Irish Oaks and sauntered to another victory of similar distance.

It seemed quite unlikely at the time but Gosden decided to turn out Enable just two weeks after the Curragh victory and face her elders in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. The decision was proven to be shrewd as the filly slammed the field by four and a half lengths. Enable’s last outing saw her claim the Yorkshire Oaks at York in yet another facile win. The current best price for the star filly of her generation is 11/10 for The Arc, and from what she has already shown, it would take a brave punter to back against her.

Potential rival

Recent reports have suggested that Sir Michael Stoute is aiming his star colt, Ulysses at The Arc. The four-year old was left trailing in Enable’s wake in the King George at Ascot. The good news for Stoute and connections of the horse is that Ulysses will have a six-pound weight pull for a four and a half-length defeat on their rival if they both line up at Chantilly. Ulysses has returned to the winners’ enclosure since Ascot by taking the Juddmonte International Stakes at York back in August. A two-length win over Churchill may suggest the son of Galileo is still improving – and that makes the inclusion of Ulysses a very interesting prospect at around 8/1 for the Paris showpiece.

Home hope

Leading French hope Zarak has to overcome an upcoming gallop test to prove his fitness ahead of a potential tilt at The Arc. Currently best-priced at 16/1, four-year-old colt Zarak, owned by the Aga Khan has had a break since winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at the beginning of July. Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre knows exactly what it takes to train an Arc winner, with Dalakhani (2003) and Zarkava (2008) as past proof of his talent to produce one for the big day. Zarak proved his own stamina on his latest start after stepping up in trip to The Arc distance by staying on strongly to win by two lengths, but has plenty to find on official ratings with Enable.

Others to consider

Aiden O’Brien saddled the first three home in last year’s Arc, and the Irish super-trainer is likely to have several options for this year’s race. Highland Reel and Order Of St George, second and third behind Found last year, are on course to race in the Arc again, with Winter, Seventh Heaven and recent St Leger winner, Capri all mooted as potential options. Whoever O’Brien decides to choose, you can be assured that some, if not all, will have a live chance on race day.

German hopes will surely rest on Dschingis Secret, who has recent course form at Chantilly by taking the Group 2 Prix Foy in early September, and the four-year old can be currently had at 14/1. Japanese raider, Satono Diamond finished in fourth place behind Dschingis Secret, and was pushed out by bookmakers to 20/1 for The Arc, but cannot be totally ruled out of consideration after its first run since May.

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