The Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe is the biggest and best flat race in the world, and while this years race is missing the recently retired Sea The Moon, and the Epsom Derby winner Australia, most of the other top horses in the world of middle distance turf racing are turning up. I preview and provide my tips for the 2014 Arc, which is run this Sunday, the 5th of October at Longchamp. If you want my best bets everyday, then check out my hugely successful Premium Advisory Service, which is +704 Points, for a remarkable ROI of +31.9% after one year.
As I write this Taghrooda heads the betting, and while she’s undoubtedly a very good filly, she will be meeting much better horses in this than she’s met before. After an easy win in the Oaks she won the King George by 3l from Telescope and Mukhadram. The bare from of that would be highly unlikely to be good enough to win an Arc, and I actually thought she was slighty flattered by the winning margin that day. She traveled well, held up off a strong pace, but was off the bridle just over 2 furlongs out, and it took her almost 1 1/2 furlongs to gain the 2l she was behind Telescope. Her 3l superiority was gained in the final 1/2 furlong when the next two home were stopping.
Taghrooda hardly advanced her claims when beaten in the Yorkshire Oaks last time, and while she was found to be in season afterwards, and may have been below her best, I think you would need to take an optimistic view of her form to have her any shorter than the current price of just 6/1. She’s obviously lightly raced enough to improve, but I think there’s at least 6 horses in this race, that are a good deal better than anything she’s ever beaten, and improvement will certainly be needed.
Ectot has won his last 6 starts, after coming 2nd on his debut, and having missed the classics due to injury he made his first appearance since April, when stepping up in trip from a mile, to 12 furlongs in the Prix Neil. He travelled really well, and smootly went from last to first in the straight, hitting the front before the furlong pole, and going 2l clear, before tying up late, and just holding on. There are a few possible interpretations of that run, he may have needed it, and that’s why he faded late. He may also have idled a bit, and you could back that up a little, as he did seem to find more when challenged late. The most likley scenario though is that the trip stretches him, he showed so much speed when he made his move, and there must be a good chance 10 furlongs will prove to be his optimium.
The Prix Neil was run at a good pace though, and with his effort delayed for longer he can do better. That said Adelaide looked a little unlucky when flying home in 3rd, and although he did make his ground in the slowest part of the race, he’s nowhere near good enough to win an Arc, and Ectot needs to improve quite a bit. He is still an exciting horse, and if it was lack of fitness that caused him to finish weakly last time, he has every chance.
Just A Way has a funny profile, in his first 6 races last year he placed a few times without winning, and none of those races were at group one level. He then suddenly showed huglely improved form when beating the top class Gentildonna in a grade one at Toyko. He showed that run not to be a fluke when hacking up on his next start, before hammering a top class field in Dubai in March. The Toyko run was over 10 furlongs, while the Meydan race was over just 9 furlongs, so there must be some doubt about his effectiveness over 12 furlongs.
Just A Way made a bit of a meal of winning over a mile last time, but the soft ground was probably against him, and while some rain is possible before Sunday the ground will likely be on the good side. He’s almost certainly good enough to go very close on his best form, and stamina is the big question. There’s no real evidence he won’t stay, as his only previous attempt was 2 years ago, when he was nowhere near the horse he is now, but likewise there’s no evidence in his run style that suggests he wants further either. If he settles well though his class should carry him into the race, and if he does get the trip okay, then he’ll take a bit of beating.
Harp Star is also a Japanese challenger, and this 3 year old filly, looks to have a great chance. After winning a grade one over a mile in April, she stepped up to 12 furlongs in the Japanese Oaks, but was given an almost impossible task held up miles off the pace, and still about 10l down turing in at Toyko. That she got to within a neck at the line was a credit to her, and you couldn’t help but conclude the best horse was 2nd.
Last time dropped back to 10 furlongs Harp Star beat Gold Ship, who re-opposes here, by 3/4l, but the margin masks her superiority. Both were held up at the back, but this time the pace seemed sound, indeed Gold Ship seemed to have trouble lying up at all. Both made good ground out wide, and were upsides on the bend, before Harp Star showed the better turn of foot to go 2l clear. She was always holding on after that, and won handy to my eye. She looks a top class performer, and while similar hold up tactics in the Arc will need a certain amount of luck in running, as she’s surely need to navigate a shorter path through the field to win, if things drop right for her, then she may be the one to end the run of close calls for the Japanese in the Arc.
Gold Ship is a top class horse in his own right, and having won over as far as 15 furlongs, the 10 furlong trip was never going to suit last time. He won the Arima Kien back in December 2012, and seems to be just as good as ever recently. That form would give him a good chance here, but while the extra trip will suit, he doesn’t have the same scope to improve as Harp Star, and I would worry about his tactical pace in this. I could see him coming home very well, and could easily hit the places, but I suspect he’ll need a proper end to end gallop, and a good trip if he’s to prevail.
Avenir Certain is unbeaten, and having won the French Guineas, and their version of the Oaks, she deserves respect. The bare form would leave her a good bit to find though, and while she picked up well to win the Oaks, she didn’t look to have that much extra in hand, and the same applies when she warmed up for this by winning a group 2 at Deauville. The fact she keeps winning means she can’t be ignored, as it may be she does just enough. That said her price is on the short side for this big step up in class, as the 12 furlong trip has be a question mark too.
Treve pulled hard, went very wide, yet still hacked up in last years Arc. While it’s true that the weight for age 3 year olds recieve is likely a few pound too much, you would still have expected her to take an awful lot of beating as a 4 year old, if in the same form. So far this year she hasn’t been in the same form though. At Ascot her action looked terrible on fast ground, and again last time she didn’t move like she did on soft ground last Autumn. That last run wasn’t that bad though. They crawled in the Vermeille, and she had an impossible task when the pace quickened in the straight. She actually did well to get herself in a challenging position at the furlong pole, and given she likely needed the run, it was no surprise that the effort it took to get close to the lead, took its toll late on.
Their is rain forecast for Paris on Sunday, and if it arrives early enough to change the ground, so that it rides on the soft side, then Treve really does come back into the reckoning. On soft ground I’d still make her the most likely winner, and while that seems unlikely now, on good to soft she would likely put up a much improved effort, and I wouldn’t be ruling her out at all.
Tapestry has been supplemented after beating Taghrooda at York, but while that as an improved effort, she then ran terribly back over a mile at Leopardstown. Given she had run well when looking unlucky not to go close in the Coronation at Ascot over a mile, the trip doesn’t totally explain away that effort. The fact her connections supplemented her suggests they think she’s back in top form, but she will likely need to improve a good bit to win, and doesn’t appeal at current odds.
Ivanhowe was a beaten favourite in the German Derby last year, when only 8th. This year he won a group 2 before coming just 6th in the same class. It was therfore a surprise when he overturned Sea The Moon, this years 11l German Derby winner, last time. That horse has since been retired though, was probably not at his best when Ivanhowe beat him, and was also likely grossly flattered by his German Derby win anyway.
Ruler Of The World didn’t get the best of runs when 7th on last years Arc, and he bounced back from that with a good 3rd in the Champion Stakes. This season following a flop in Dubai he didn’t appear again until winning the Prix Foy by 1 1/2l from Flintshire. Frankie Dettore rode the others to sleep that day though, dictating a slow pace, and while his tactical versatility and overall form give him a place chance, it would be disappointing if he was good enough to win an Arc.
Kingston Hill arrived here after winning the St Leger, but that was a poor group 1 race. In fact that even though I don’t rate Kingston Hill as a top class middle distance horse, i still backed him at 3/1 that day. He didn’t win with anything in hand either, and the bare form of a 1 1/4l beating of Romsdal would leave him with an awful lot to find. The same applies to his 2nd in the Derby, beaten cosily by a horse who is clearly top class, but nowhere near as good as connections hyped him up to be, and indeed those same connections clearly don’t think he’s good enough to win an Arc, or else they would have run him in it. Much better Leger winners than Kingston Hill have tried and failed to win the Arc on their next start, and i’d be very surpirsed if he managed it. None of the other make much appeal as likely winners either.
I haven’t mentioned the draw so far, mainly because stats using percentage of runners beaten, show it to have had no influence on Arc results going back many years. Harp Star is drawn in 12 and that looks perfect to me. I do worry about her jockey, who is no Ryan Moore in a finish, and going really wide doesn’t appear to bother him much either. That said if there’s a really top notch 12 furlong horse in the race, I think it’s more likely to be her, than any of the others. Just A Way and Ectot may also prove to be top notchers, but probably over 10 furlongs, while Gold Ship could have a say if they go a proper gallop. If the ground does soften before the race, Treve would have a great chance, but she’s hard to fancy on fast ground. I’d rate Harp Star favourite and the 8/1 available looks worth taking. Have the bet with