The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, run over a mile and a half at Longchamp racecourse in Paris, traditionally attracts the crème de la crème of middle distance performers from all over the world.
This year’s renewal (3.25pm BST, Sunday) is no exception, with 18 runners from Great Britain, Ireland, France, the Czech Republic and Japan competing for €4,000,000 in prize money.
After lengthy deliberation, Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien has decided to let his three-year-old Camelot take his chance and the son of Montjeu is now favourite for the Arc at odds of 11/4.
Camelot failed by just three-quarters of a length to become the first horse since Nijinsky, in 1970, to win the Triple Crown when beaten by 25/1 outsider Encke in the St. Leger three weeks ago, but, back at a mile and a half, he looks a worthy favourite.
He was impressive when beating Main Sequence by five lengths in the Epsom Derby and although he had to work a little harder to beat Born To Sea by two lengths in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh he still completed the task with the minimum of fuss. The going at the Curragh was soft to heavy, which he clearly hated, and similar conditions underfoot may be his undoing here. In the absence of Camelot’s regular jockey, Joseph O’Brien, who can’t ride at the required weight of 8st 11lb, Frankie Dettori takes the mount.
Japanese trainers have tried and failed to win the Arc on ten previous occasions, but are represented by last season’s Japanese Horse of the Year, Orfevre, this time around. The four-year-old colt has raced just once outside Japan, but won his preparatory race for the Arc, the Prix Foy, over course and distance last month.
Orfevre stayed on well to beat André Fabre’s four-year-old Meandre (a 16/1 chance for the Arc) by a length on that occasion and reopposes on the same terms. He has proved his ability to act on the course and on soft going, but whether the balance of his form is actually good enough to win an Arc remains to be seen. Consequently, his current odds of 3/1 seem very short and he looks one worth taking on.
Of course, the Arc is far from being a two horse race. Shareta, St Nicholas Abbey and Meandre all contested last year’s Arc and, despite being 8lb worse off for a length with St Nicholas Abbey, Shareta may, once again, prove best of the trio.
The form of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July suggests that Alain de Royer-Dupre’s four-year-old filly has something to find with Meandre, but she’s improved to win the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille, over course and distance, on her two most recent starts. She’s back in against the colts here, but siding with an improving filly in the autumn can often pay dividends and she looks good value for a place, at least, at odds of 9/1.
André Fabre has trained seven previous Arc winners, so his three-year-old colt Masterstroke commands respect. The son of Monsun has won four of his six career starts and finished strongly when beating Gatewood in the Grand Prix de Deauville in August, but his form, at least so far, doesn’t appear good enough to win an Arc. He may still be improving, but is current odds of 10/1 are more a reflection of his powerful connections than what he’s actually achieved on the racecourse.
Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old colt Sea Moon has been absent since finishing fifth behind Danedream in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July and has something to find with St. Nicholas Abbey on that form. Earlier form, from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, also suggests that St. Nicholas Abbey has his measure, so his current odds of 10/1 don’t appear overly generous.
The three-year-old colts Bayrir and Saonois and the 3-year-old filly Great Heavens were added to the Arc earlier in the week at a cost of €100,000 each to connections. Of these three, Prix du Jockey Club winner Saonois looks to have the best chance. He has an impressive turn of foot at the end of his races, but he looks to lack value at his current odds of 9/1.
One outsider who could run above her form is Yellow And Green, who will only be having her sixth outing and caught the eye when an unlucky and fast-finishing fourth to Shareta in the Prix Vermeille. If you are keen to back a longshot, and her starting price may be greater than her current quote of 28/1, then this is the one on the upgrade.
On reflection, Camelot may be a worthy favourite, but has only ever raced against his own age group and may be vulnerable as the ground could be very soft at Longchamp. SHARETA, on the other hand, is proven against older horses, appears to act on any ground, including very soft and heavy, and seems to be improving at just the right time. She looks the one to be on and appeals as a solid each-way bet.
- Our Arc Preview Prediction: 1 Shareta; 2 Yellow And Green; 3 Saonois.