The UK & Irish flat racing calendar certainly has some world class festivals and events through the spring and summer months. But when it comes to one single card of absolutely world class flat racing, Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day at the newly refurbished ParisLongchamp venue is out on its own. A bonanza of Group 1 action begins at 1.10pm on Sunday and the mouth-watering main event will go off at 3.05pm, where a certain Superstar filly bids to cement herself as one of the true greats of the turf…
2017 Arc de Triomphe winner Enable is set to break out of stall 6 on Sunday, having been afforded a handy perch when the draw was announced on Thursday morning. So, barring a far from ideal preparation, the short-priced favourite has everything in place – including the handy services of Frankie Dettori – to cement her legacy a year on and prove herself to be the best middle distance horse in the world.
But is it really as simple as she just needs to turn up to win easily? Perhaps, she is certainly a properly top class filly and her beating of Poet’s Word at Kempton was really impressive, but the playing field and conditions are somewhat different this time. For a start, the Arc is at ParisLongchamp this year and not Chantilly, while trainer John Gosden has expressed some serious concerns about the state of the turf surface at the new track. So Enable needs to prove she handles the place. There’s no obvious reason why she wouldn’t, but it’s worth considering all the same. Last October, Enable was a 3yo filly getting 10lb from most of her rivals, a year on that weight luxury has reduced significantly now she’s four. Add to that the fact that she’s only had the one run all season and faces a field of hard-fit, no-nonsense middle distance campaigners, and one could assemble a reasonable argument for taking her on at short odds.
Nobody would turn their nose up should she go ahead and prove her greatness under the Italian maestro, a man who has won more Arcs than any other jockey. It will be a special achievement for all concerned if it happens. But as a punter, it is my natural inclination to take her like on.
The talking horse has been Waldgeist following his hugely impressive win in the Qatar Prix Foy last month. A slow-burning improver, he’s drawn in stall 13 which isn’t ideal but not a deal breaker either, I just think much of the value has vanished and thus the enthusiasm to back him with it in recent days. He could be the one to serve it up to an on-song Enable, though.
If James Doyle had gone to a Harry Potter audition back in the day, he may well have got the nod ahead of Daniel Radcliffe. He’ll certainly need to conjure up some Wizarding magic from stall 19 aboard the very likeable Sea Of Class, but I’m struggling to see her having the overall determination and luck to get into the frame. She is also (rightly) trading in single figures, but is on the drift since the draws were handed out.
So, let’s get to it. I have a pair of nutty selections to throw your way. A pair of huge price greys at that. The first is NEUFBOSC, a horse I knew little about until watching some replays while writing this article. He’s a consistent sort and has plenty of course and distance experience to call upon. He went off at 4/5 to win the Prix Niel after a mid-summer break, but could only manage 3rd, running as though he’d improve a good bit for the outing. Pitched in stall 11, I could see him running a nice race under Cristian Demuro. The second is WAY OF LIFE, 80/1 at BetBright but nearly double that in some corners of cyberspace. This fella does not have the profile of an Arc winner, but he did make up nice ground after a slow start behind Waldgeist in the Prix Foy last time out and although fanciful to suggest he could reverse placings with that fancied animal, I could see him finishing ahead of Cloth Of Stars and Talismanic and picking off quite a few of the stragglers in the home straight, if he doesn’t get too far behind. The Italian raider doesn’t win too often and probably lacks the overall class to get involved, but he has a bit of a gear change on him and at an enormous price, I couldn’t resist having a few quid E/w on the 5yo on the back of that Prix Foy effort.
Enable will probably win, but I fancied a couple of fun selections in the race. You’d never know, it could be one of those years.
Earlier on in the day, the 1.20pm Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac is a fiendishly open Group 1 for fillies, but I like the way HERMOSA did the job at Naas last time out. Despite having a busy juvenile campaign, she’s still learning the game and seems to be putting it together at the right time for a test like this. She should go very well.
The 4.25pm Prix de l’Abbaye is a fascinating contest. We got Battaash beaten at short odds with 40/1 winner Alpha Delphini at York last time out and while it’ll be hard to repeat such a feat, I see no reason to not take him on again given the depth of speedsters on show here. Alpha Delphini is a big price once again and it would be rude to not chuck a few quid his way given how remarkably consistent he is. I also think Hit The Bid won’t be far away. DJ Bunyan’s 4yo has been on the go since the Meydan Carnival but showed he remains in dangerous form with a creditable run behind Havana Grey at the Curragh last time out. He rarely runs a bad race and deserves to win a nice one.
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Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.