Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (Group 1) (Class 1) (3YO plus)
Advice: 1 pt each/way Avenir Certain (9/1 general), Gold Ship (12/1 general)
Flintshire: Only eighth in this last year, but the sense that was a stronger renewal and ground didn’t suit; Not built on promising reappearance effort in Coronation Cup when fifth at saint cloud, but enjoyed better ground when second in Foy behind Ruler of the World: Can go well on this decent surface but punching above weight here.
Ruler of the World: Seventh in this last year but then followed that up with a fine third in Champion Stakes; Easy to throw out his World Cup effort in Dubai and quite impressive in Foy from the front here; No reason he can’t go at least as well again in easier renewal but questionable if he gets the same lead again.
Al Kazeem: Sixth in last year’s renewal when ending a fantastic season (had won Prince of Wales’s, Eclipse; Then infertile, so bought back to win Winter Hill Stakes, but exposed as being below last year’s form when only fifth in Irish Champion Stakes and can look elsewhere. 1
Ivanhowe: Very on and off nature but when he’s good he’s very good, as shown by his clear cut win in the Grosser Preis Von-Baden when convincingly beating former favourite in Sea The Moon; Fine form on face value but long absence and poor trip of the runner up take gloss off the value and worry that his is yet to put two runs together unavoidable here; Capable of going well but others preferred.
Spiritjim: Progressive this year, taking a Listed, Group 3, 2 and Group 1, catching a flagging Noble Mission in the last strides (DQ’d from that); Third in recent Foy was a fair return but that said, in same boat as first two and others make more appeal.
Gold Ship: Either 2 miles didn’t suit him or simple on an off day in the Tenno Sho but either first or second in all four of his starts since third to Orfevre in Armina Kinen; Deeply impressive in Tarzuka Kinen before creditable trial second in Sapporo Kinen to Harp Star when tardy start may have hurt him and this an ideal test.
Just a Way: Transformed racehorse in the last year, smashing Gentildonna in Tenno Sho and then thumping international field in Dubai Duty Free at Meydan; Coped admirably with drop back to a mile in Yasuda Kinen to nail Grand Prix Booss on the line and not been seen since; Devastating talent is obvious, but the big worry is the trip for one who shows so much speed; A different horse from the one that was beaten on his only try over the trip in 2012 but big question still to answer.
Treve: A stunning winner of this last year when taking apart a brilliant field, but sadly not been the same since for varying reasons; Nothing wrong with comeback behinf Cirrus Des Aigles and understandable defeat in Prince of Wales but didn’t move with ease again when only fourth in the Vermille and one would have to hope that large amount left in reserve there; Connections confident but up against it.
Chiquita: Expensive purchase for Ballydoyle following fine year in which she overcame behavioural difficulties, finishing third in Diane to Treve and then winning Irish Oaks despite drifting across the track; Return in Blandford Stakes behind Tarfasha should have set her up well for big step forward but would need to take one to get involved.
Siljan’s Saga: Best of the rest in Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud a couple of months ago but that form unlikely to be good enough and well beaten in Vermille; Advice is to look elsewhere.
Ectot: Ended last year joint top of the 2yo pile and looked as if he would lead classic generation this season, but injury curtailed season after fighting hard to beat off French Guineas winner Karaktonie in Fontainebleau; First start since saw him win with huge promise in Prix Niel, travelling in exemplary fashion before seeing out race in cost fashion from Teletext; Time stands up well to other races on Arc trials day (was led by a pacemaker that day) and hugely respected.
Montviron: Likely pacemaker for Ectot.
Prince Gibraltar: Came too late in both the Jockey Club and Grand Prix De Paris, where 1m4f suited greatly, as shown by his well beaten third in the Guilliame D’Orno at Deauville where winner made all and go first run; Capable of a big showing but others make more appeal.
Kingston Hill: Made into a fine middle distance colt this season, second in the Derby to Australia before his Eclipse fourth (circumstances combined against him); The best horse in the Leger at Doncaster and showed it in fine style; This an entirely different task in terms of quality and while he can go well, others make more appeal.
Free Port Lux: Strong early season form stands up well to scrutiny and so does his fourth in Grand Prix De Paris but that leaves him behind best of the 3yos and would almost certainly have wanted far more cut in the ground ahead of today as well; Others make more appeal.
Avenir Certain: The outstanding 3yo of the French season, taking the Pouclihes and Diane with impressive show of speed on both occasions, and warmed up for this with consummate ease to take the Nonette at Deauville in soft ground; Big worry of her stepping upto 12 furlongs for the first time but way she saw out prep race and Diane offers encouragement and massive player here.
Diolniya: Continued sharp progression with third in Prix Vermille (ahead of Treve, a creditable effort considering that the two started their run almost together) having previously won Malleret at Saint Cloud in style of stout stayer with plenty more to come; This requires a massive step up of course but respected even if others make more appeal.
Taghrooda: Would probably come here as a stronger favourite had she not ru in Yorkshire Oaks when beaten (seemingly fair and square) by Tapestry (supplemented today), having travelled best but been outsped at the finish; Before she had been a deeply impressive winner of the Oaks and a competitive King George, turning both into a rout; Said to be coming into season at York and a major contender here.
Harp Star: Superstar 3yo who looked to be crying out for step up in trip when winning Japanese Guineas; Should have won Japanese Oaks with ease but somehow conspired give herself too much ground to make up; No such mistake when holding off Gold Ship to land Sapporo Kinen; 12 furlongs her optimum trip and no reason why she shouldn’t go very well.
Tapestry: Looked as if she was set to become a disappointment early in the season with disappointing shows in the Guineas and coronation but stepping up in trip proved to be toe oracle and fast finishing Irish Oaks second was followed with massive upset of Taghrood at York; That seemed entirely fair and square, showing an impressive turn of foot to seal the deal, and her supplementary entry this week a clear statement of intent; Runner up said to be coming into season which could explain potential below par performance but not hard to see her getting involved.
VERDICT: Questions over all the leading contenders make this ferociously competitive race and a betting contest to savour. The fantastic record of 3yo fillies in France alone would make a case for AVENIR CERTAIN but the style of victories in the Pouliches and Diane make her worth chancing on a stamina front and she can strike yet another blow for fillies, who have won 4 of the last 6 runnings; That Gregory Benoist prefers Niel winner and likely contender Ectot is of no concern, and he should go well too. Taghrooda is a worthy favourite although the presence of Tapestry – potential each/way value – muddies the waters a little with the two hard to separate. Just a Way has the immense talent but there is a much greater concern over his stamina than that of compatriots Harp Star and GOLD SHIP, with the latter – if on a going day – taken to end Japan’s arc hoodoo. Their form with previous Arc contenders stands up very well but in dominating the Sapporo Kinen they showed their own talent and they may be the ones to give Japan it’s first Arc. If Treve was in the same form as last year then she would be a very strong favourite but she moved poorly once again latest and there are too many questions for her to answer. Ivanhowe hasn’t backed up fine efforts in the past – a big worry here – and Ruler of the World’s connections can be hopeful of a strong effort if repeating his Prix Foy win although he should get much more competition for the lead.