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Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe – Longchamp Sunday

Thanks to Sam Preen of the Softinplaces wordpress  for this runner by runner look at the Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp – Sunday


Oh, Treve. Winless since her outstanding success in last year’s Arc, she has been beaten on all three starts this year, finishing a short neck to Cirrus in the Prix Ganay, third in the Price of Wales’s and fourth in the Vermeille, a race she won before her Arc victory. Theirry Jarnet will ride once again, but she isn’t in the same form as she came here last year.


Loves Longchamp like I love Beverley. The Grand Prix de Saint-cloud “winner”. He followed up his narrow Grand Prix de Chantilly win with the Saint-Cloud victory under a masterful ride to win by a narrow margain, but was eventually disqualified after a banned substance emerged in his system after post-race tests. Was a staying on third at Longchamp in the Prix Foy, but was no match for Ruler Of The World, and looks up against it here. Versatile when it comes to ground, at least.


Siljan’s Saga182143
The Prix Corrida winner heads back to Longchamp, after finishing a well beaten seventh in the Vermeille, which had Treve in fourth. Before that, she was a gallant “third” to Noble Mission in the Grand Prix de Saint-cloud, just losing out by a short neck, but was eventually promoted to second after the disqualification of Spiritjim, tut tut. Her price suggests her chances, and she’s obviously very difficult to fancy, let alone recommend.


My ante-post pick last year, Flintshire could only manage eighth in the rain softened ground last October, and wasn’t seen on a racecourse until Epsom in June, chasing home Cirrus in the Coronation Cup, and didn’t give fav backers a run for their money in the Grand Prix De Saint-cloud, finishing fifth, but was promoted to fourth, when Spiritjim was disqualified. Dropped to Group 2 level, he was last seen over course and distance, chasing home Ruler Of the World, a much better effort on his ideal ground. Will once again have his ground come Sunday, but vast improvement is needed after last year’s below par effort in testing ground.


Avenir Certain

Tasting defeat only once, Gregory Benoist has opted to side with CD winner Ectot. Doesn’t usually win by wide margins, which probably gives his backers multiple heart attacks, and he seen landing the Prix Niel a shade cheekily. He’d had his last piece of work before the Arc this (Monday) morning, and could be the one to pick up the pieces if Taghrooda fails to fire.


Prince Gibraltar177823
Useful sort over shorter, he won going away at Saint-cloud in May, before rallying late for thrid at Chantilly, finishing three and a quarter lengths behind The Grey Gatsby, and ran a huge race in defeat over course and distance, a short neck behind shock winner Gallante (see above), and again was a staying on third at Deauville on heavy. Smart sort on his day, but this trip should stretch him to his limit, and likely to find a few too good.


Free Port Lux213062
Showed a hint of promise this time last year, when landing a maiden at Longchamp, over 9 furlongs, and disappointed at Saint-cloud when sent off a fancied 5/1 in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, last November. Bounced back this season after a narrow defeat on comeback, to chase home Galio Chop in a Group 3, before a narrow win in the Prix Hocquart, over shorter. Disappointing in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, but ran a much better race on “very soft”, when fitted with blinkers, which were left on when chasing home Calio Chop at Deauville, and a head victory in a Group 3, over 10 furlongs. Better ground a plus, but difficult to fancy in a race like this.


Avenir Certain219233
Slashed in price for the Arc since taking her unbeaten record to six, Avenir Certain surely heads to the Arc after seeing off her rivals by a length and a half in the Nonette at Deauville. Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget isn’t certain she will stay the trip, but the plan is to have her fit and ready for the Arc, and she will head there without a prep, missing an engagement in the Vermille.  Personally, I am convinced she will get the trip if she has the race run to suit her (and probably will have a pacemaker to make it happen), especially if she has her ground to suit. Still available at backable prices, and worth chancing against mixed market leaders.


Yet to finish out of the first three, and picked up a Listed event at Compiegne, before a ready victory in a Group 2 at Saint-cloud. Hardly disgraced on her first crack at the highest level, when a staying on third in the Vermeille, with Treve a head in fourth. Recent rainfall a plus, and has form on good ground. Interesting, at a huge price.


Kingston Hill (right)

Third of six on his debut, finishing behind the useful Teletext, and was once again half a length third over course and distance back in May, before picking up a fair prize again at Longchamp, this time back down over 10 furlongs. Flopped on his first serious text, in the Listed Prix Ridgway at Compiegne, and looks to have a hopeless task in this.


I well and truly missed the boat on her. Winning all four of her starts, she backed up her claims proving she’s the best filly on the block, landing the Oaks, before smashing her seven rivals in the King George Stakes at Ascot. She was narrowly beaten by Tapestry at York, and heads to Longchamp for her likely swan song. She was a massive price since then, but with the defeat of Treve, she’s been pushed back to the head of the market.


Kingston Hill28322
The ground dependent Kingston Hill got the green light the evening before the race at Doncaster, but that didn’t stop his routing his rivals to land the Leger by a length and a quarter. Dropping back in trip after his Classic victory is sure to suit, he’s versatile on any ground, despite Varian’s protests, and the recent rainfall should play to his way. An interesting contender.


Ruler Of The World218766
Former Derby hero, who was a creditable seventh in this last year when rattling home late, and followed that up with a narrow defeat in last year’s Champion Stakes. Purchased by Al Shaqab at the start of the season, he was very disappointing in the Dubai World Cup, but bounced back under a masterful ride under Frankie Dettori in the Prix Foy. That boosted his Arc credentials, and has been coming in for support in recent days. Should run well under Joseph O’Brien.


Tapestry & Taghrooda

The 6 million euro filly could join stablemate Ruler Of The World in the Arc, instead of taking on her own sex in the L’Opera. Chased home future heroine Treve in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly, before coming out on top close home to land the Irish Oaks, despite hanging very badly. Off for nearly a year after getting sold for the eyewatering price, she was runner up in the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh, behind Tarfasha, when keeping on well for second. Interesting that connections are leaning towards this race instead, but personally, I wouldn’t be keen on her chances.


Al Kazeem9896
Brilliant last year, landing multiple Group races, before bowing out with a below par sixth in this last year, despite taking a keen hold, stumbling, and being lumped with the widest draw on unsuitable ground. He then went off for a fruitless season at stud, before returning to finish a creditable fourth at Newbury in a Listed event, before a workmanlike success in the Group 3 Winter Hill at Windsor, but failed to land a blow at Leopardstown when upped to Group 1 level again.


Useful sort on his day, but notched the biggest win of his career when landing the Grosser Preis Von Baden from the now retired Arc jolly, Sea The Moon. Pushed up to near top of the market after that shock victory, and not hopelessly out of his. Previously finished sixth on his sole start in France, at Chantilly.


Harp Star92509
Earmarked for the Arc a while ago, she was slashed in price after beating home fellow Arc hope Gold Ship by three quarters of a length in the Sapooro Kinen in August, beating rivals much older than her, including jolly Gold Ship (5), outside Whale Capture (6) and my new favourite racehorse, Love Is Boo Shet (5). Comes here with solid claims, but only ever raced on firm, which is worrying, though.


Gold Ship
Japan send in Gold Ship, who picked up the Takarazuka Kinen (don’t ask) in June, before chasing home fellow Arc hope Harp Star in the Sapporo Kinen. The outsider of the Japanese trio, he heads here in fine form, but looks highly unlikely to reverse the form with Harp Star back up in trip. Can only be watched, at best.


126861 (1)

Harp Star (left) & Gold Ship (grey, right)

Just A Way196232
Dubbed the “World’s best”, he runs over a variety of distances, but is at his brilliant best over 8-9 furlongs, seen when firing off a four timer, stretching back to a surprise win in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) over 10 furlongs. Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga has expressed his excitement of riding in the Arc, but has said the trip is not sure to suit, as Just A Way is yet to win beyond 1m2f. Surges clear when the button is pressed, but needs to be up there with the pace if he’s to be in with a shout to break the Japanese duck.


Surprising late entry, but Ryan Moore may crack a smile, given that he’ll be reunited with the Yorkshire Oaks heroine, who famously claimed the scalp of Taghrooda at York. She’s a fine record over this trip, chasing home Bracelet in the Irish Oaks, after a three and a half lengths defeat to Rizeena (had to put that in there) at Ascot in June, and we all know what happened at York. Perhaps not at her best at Leopardstown, when well beaten over a mile, but has claims back under here, and capable of running a big race under Ryan.


Conclusion; If Corona’s did holidays (I don’t like Carlsberg)… Looked to be the race of the season a while ago, with Sea The Moon lighting up the German racing scene, and Australia over in Ireland. The pair miss the race, Sea The Moon due to a career ending injury, and connections of Australia have opted for Ascot instead.


The race has been blown wide open in recent times, leaving plenty in with live chances. Taghrooda still remains at the top of the market after her narrow York defeat, thanks to Treve‘s below par Vermeille effort, whilst money has been coming for Ruler Of The World, after his outstanding Prix Foy effort, which had Flintshire back in second. This could be the year for Japan, with Harp Star making tons of appeal, but the recent rainfall is a worry, having only raced on firm, whilst Just A Way bids to extend his winning run, although he’s not won beyond 10 furlongs.


Fillies have won the last three runnings of the race (Dandream 2011, Solemia 2012, Treve 2013), and I’m hoping AVENIR CERTAIN can continue that fine record. I’ve sided with her for months, and it’d be foolish to leave her at the last minute. As I’ve said, Jean-Claude Rouget isn’t certain she will stay the trip, but the plan is to have her fit and ready for the Arc, and the recent rainfall will work into her favor. Her usual jockey Gregory Benoist has decided to side with Ectot, who bids to extend his winning run. He’s versatile with the ground, and though slightly more workmanlike than impressive on his comeback in the Prix Niel, over course and distance, that run will have blown away the cobwebs and he’s in with a serious shout for Al Shaqab.


Classic hero Kingston Hill warrants respect after his outstanding Leger win, and hopefully we don’t hear another “we might not run him because of the ground” from Varian, while if we’re after a “dark horse”, Dolniya makes some appeal, being as big as 40/1.


Avenir Certain @  6/1, 8/1 & 12/1 (Ante-post)
Taghrooda @ 4/1 (Ante-post)
Ruler Of The World @ 16/1 (Coral)
Dolniya @ 40/1 (Coral, Hills)


Sam Preen – read more of his work at Softinplaces or follow on twitter @forpreendeplasterer

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