In terms of strength in depth, this year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (3.15pm, Longchamp, Sunday) is a candidate for the strongest in history. Nevertheless, we’ve left no stone unturned and hit upon a selection that we think is capable of carrying off the valuable first prize at a rewarding price.
Last year’s Arc runner-up Orfevre (5/2), who wasn’t extended to beat Very Nice Name by 3 lengths in the Prix Foy over course and distance three weeks ago, seems an obvious starting point. The former Japanese Triple Crown winner appeared to throw away what looked like certain victory in this race last year when idling in the closing stages and caught, in the shadow of the post, by 33/1 chance Solemia. It subsequently leaked out that he bled in the race.
He was also beaten, albeit by just a nose, on his only subsequent Group 1 start, in the Japan Cup at Tokyo in November, so arguably has questions to answer when put under extreme pressure at the highest level. Furthermore, the last horse to complete the Prix Foy-Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe double in the same season was Sagace in 1984, so the statistics aren’t in his favour.
Criquette Head-Maarek’s unbeaten filly Treve (5/1) broke the track record when winning the Prix Diane, over 1 mile 2½ furlongs, at Chantilly in June. She forged clear to record a very impressive 4-length victory over subsequent Irish Oaks winner Chiquita on that occasion and was no less impressive when pushed clear, under hands and heels, to win the Prix Vermeille over course and distance last month, on her first attempt at 1 mile 4 furlongs. She receives all the allowances, so it’s no surprise that connections have supplemented her at a cost of €100,000. She could still prove to be a very useful ‘spare’ for jockey Thierry Jarnet, substituting for the injured Frankie Dettori, but she appears to have work to do from stall 15.
Novellist (5/1), trained by Andreas Wohler, who won the Arc with Danedream in 2011, is unbeaten this season and was particularly impressive when storming clear to beat Trading Leather by 5 lengths in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July. Although only workmanlike when beating stable companion Seismos in the Grosser Preiss von Baden-Baden, at odds of 1/6, last month, he shouldn’t be underestimated, despite being less than ideally drawn in stall 12.
Japanese Derby winner Kizuna (8/1) beat Ruler Of The World (14/1), Ocovango (33/1) and Flintshire (14/1) in the Prix Niel over course and distance last month, but with the first nine home in that race covered by just 4½ lengths it must be debatable if the form is reliable. Fourth-placed Flintshire, who wasn’t knocked about by jockey Maxime Guyon in the closing stages, could be the one to take out of the race. He’s followed Andre Fabre’s tried and tested route to the Arc, he’s never won on going softer than good, so underfoot conditions are likely to be against him on Sunday.
Intello (12/1), who won the Prix du Jockey Club, over 1 mile 2½ furlongs, at Chantilly in June appears to be Andre Fabre’s first string and probably rightly so. The son of Galileo has won twice on good to soft going, once on soft going and once on heavy going, so should have conditions to suit but, unlike nine of the last ten winners, has never won over 1 mile 4 furlongs. That’s a fairly major negative, even if Andre Fabre has won the Arc seven times before.
Like Andre Fabre, Aidan O’Brien sets punters a puzzle by saddling more than one runner, but Leading Light (20/1) did us a favour when winning the St. Leger, over 1 mile 6½ furlongs, at Doncaster last month and it may be worth siding with him once again. The Montjeu colt has the same Coolmore connections as Ruler Of The World and surely they wouldn’t have stumped the €100,000 required to supplement him unless they thought he had a serious chance of winning.
This year’s Arc promises to be a race to remember, whatever the outcome, but our betting advice is to back LEADING LIGHT each-way at a standout best price of 20/1 with Coral (the 20/1 is unlikely to last long – he is just half that price with Ladbrokes). He had enough speed to win over 1 mile 2 furlongs earlier in the season, so 1 mile 4 furlongs on rain softened ground should be right up his boulevard and he’s well drawn in stall 5.
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