Category Archives: Race Preview

Preview: ARC DE TRIOMPH 2017

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“You are prone to bad luck at Chantilly; often the best horse gets beaten there” – John Gosden

Correct. John Gosden, trainer of wonder filly Enable is rightly concerned if it comes to external influences in today’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The dual Oaks and King George champ is the red hot betting favourite for quite some time. Rightly so. There is little more she needs to do to prove her class. She IS all class.

However a long season, a big field of top class contenders, most of them the opposite sex, tough ground and a course that can throw up strange results – there is a lot to overcome today….

…. and a lot to like about Enable! 

On the positive side of things, Enable could have not get a better draw allotted in the lottery that can kill chances of any horse before the race is even run. She can start from stall 2 – it gives her flamboyant star jockey Frankie Dettori every chance to make a decision whereas other rivals have to take what’s left over.

Enable is an uncomplicated filly, she has no problem to race prominently. I’m sure Dettori will settle her close enough to the pace with every chance to get the clearest of runs. The track will be more of an issue for anyone behind her: no excuses.

So – put the mortgage on? 

If she is in the form she presented herself all year – yes, ’cause she’ll win. Plain and simple. Fillies and three year old fillies in particular have a superb record in the Arc.

But what if a season that started in a Conditions Stake at Newbury back in April has taken a toll? You couldn’t begrudge Enable to lose some percentage of her superb form that saw the three year old land spectacular victories throughout the summer.

Well – Autumn, soft ground and Chantilly can do strange things to horses. So at prices I have to take on Enable. As much as I would love the story of her winning the race, as much I feel ENABLEd to say: this is one too many for her this year.

Bigger odds, Bigger Value!

I like three individuals at much bigger odds: the German raider Dschingis Secret, the recent Leger hero Capri and the French Cloth Of Stars .

Why? The German horse has no issues on the soft ground and usually does his best at the back end of his races. The way he finds another gear in the closing stages, as seen in the Prix Foy and Großer Preis von Berlin, is a trait not too many horses posses.

The way he races does not look sexy. He can get sweaty, be a bit keen but also can appear to be off the bridle earlier than a high class individual should be. But that doesn’t matter. The apparent ease – once hitting top gear – he puts away classy contenders suggest that this lad is hitting top form when it matters most.

The draw isn’t ideal, ten is as wide as you want to be and he will need a bit of luck. But hey, this is horse racing. You’ll always need a bit of ” luck” on the big day. 16’s is a serious price for a serious horse.

But Capri? A Leger winner? Yep. The drop in trip won’t be an issue. He’s an Irish Derby winner with form over shorter too. He travells strongly through his races and simply has an exceptional attitude to keep on going, as seen at Doncaster a fortnight ago. Soft ground doesn’t bother him, in fact the true stamina test expected will rather suit him today.

He’s here’s soon enough with little time to recover plus faces the difficult task to break from stall 15. However that is reflected in the price, and I feel taken into account overly negative. Yes, he is not the likeliest winner of the race, but surely a dual Classic winner has a slightly better than 5% chance with conditions likely to suit him?!

It’s been eight years since Sea The Stars became a legend in this very race. His son Cloth Of Stars is one who has the tools to emulate his almighty daddy. He’s got a good draw, a fair prep run under the belt off a four months long break when runner-up in the Foy behind Dschingis Secret and was unbeaten in 2017 before that.

Stamina is a question mark. He is yet to win over 1m 4f. On the plus side he loves the ground and deserves another crack at this distance after only two tries and with some improvement still possible.

Anything else to say?

Don’t count out Ulysses, either. He will love the track, he’s been a revelation this season and acts on softish ground. That says ground and trip in combination should not play to his strengths, I feel.

There is loads of money coming for Order Of St. George. He’s a sexy contender, I admit. He looked SO good in the Irish Ledger. Ground and trip is fine. A stayer with a turn of foot, Arc 3rd twelve months ago. Yeah, he’s a serious chance, Ballydoyle’s best, no doubt.

I say that because it’s only the 1st October and Winter is not coming – not today. The superstar filly has done it all this season, but this is a step too far. Sure, as a daughter of Galileo all is seemingly possible – but a long year, tough ground, a trip as far as she’s never gone before – too much.

The point is….

….. this is a wide open Arc! Much more open than the betting suggests. We have a star filly in Enable who is likely to take plenty of beating if all goes right for her. But this is the Arc, it’s autumn, it’s Chantilly, it’s tough ground, it’s a high class field…. there is plenty of room for things to pan out in a completely different way. Let’s hope it goes my way.

Selections:
10pts win – Dschingis Secret @ 16/1 Bet365
10pts win – Capri @ 20/1 Bet365
5pts win – Cloth To Stars @ 28/1 Bet365

Preview: Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

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Arc Day! The most prestigious flat race in Europe, maybe the world, is finally upon us The search for a new champion begins right here.

The Arc, that is a special race for me personally. On one hand it clearly marks the end of the flat season – yes, there is still some racing to go, but let’s make no mistake: the calendar turned to October, the nights are chilly again and the jumpers are out at Gowran Park. Winter is coming….

Arc Day: it’s a special day also because it brings back wonderful memories. Now, I can’t claim to follow the sport of horse racing for decades. Though it’s closing in on ten years actually – time’s flying! But I witnessed Sea The Stars winning the race, bringing the house down on an unbelievable summer of racing that captivated my heart like no other ever did.

Only two years later the German filly Danedream sprinted to a sensational success in Europe’s premier flat race – I had a big ante-post wager on her at massive odds, to this date the biggest monetary win of my illustrious betting career.

Arc 2016: A Decent Renewal?

The general perception leading up to the big race seems one of muted excitement. Some suggest this year’s Arc is a rather sub-standard renewal. I don’t buy that. In fact the 2016 Arc boosts as big a field as ever, with runners from all over world, with more than a handful of those rated at 120+, not for forget a favourite who has won three big Group one races on the bounce this season. Oh the reigning dual English & Irish Derby winner is here too! Not too shabby in my book.

Conditions Today

Reportedly perfect conditions at Chantilly today, where the Arc is run during the re-building process at Longchamp. Chantilly is known as a course that throws up plenty of hard luck stories, so with a big field of 16 runners it seems inevitable that some connections might feel unlucky in the aftermath of the race.

Genuine good ground should provide a level playing field for all horses on that particular front at least, though.

High Draw = Race Lost?

A race over 1 mile 4 furlongs, yet the draw is always a big talking point on Arc day. Of course it is, because if your drawn in the car park it makes your task so much more difficult. On the other hand those horses who need to be dropped in anyway mightn’t be too dramatically inconvenienced. Nonetheless if you’re forced to travel four, five wide throughout a 2.400m contest, chances are you won’t find the extra gear needed for a strong finish.

That says, for those who like to attack a race from the start, the wide draw must not be an issue at all. At Chantilly you have an early left-hand turn, which in theory should mean you can make up ground more easily from a wide draw – if you chose to attempt it.

Two well fancied runners – the Japanese Makahiki and Found – have been drawn rather wide. It makes their bid for glory the bit more difficult.

Found won’t mind it as she is likely to race off the pace anyway, though she is likely to encounter plenty of traffic and given her history (“the most unlucky filly in the world”) I am concerned that she does not get out in time today.

Makahiki, the excellent winner of the Prix Niel, is a more diverse story. Drawn in 14, I would expect jockey Lemaire to try to make a move right from the start in order to get a handy position somewhere in midfield while finding valuable cover as well. Though this could be a difficult thing to achieve, given plenty of jockeys on lower drawn horses will have the same tactics in mind. Therefore I can see a scenario where Lemaire has to commit too much too early or alternatively will end up in a really poor position on the widest outside.

Favourite Postponed will have every chance to find the right spot from stall seven. He has no problem to be ridden positively and he could end up in fifth, sixth position behind the pace. Dual Derby winner Harzand is drawn right beside him. It’ll be interesting to see what Smullen does here. I would certainly hope he tracks Postponed’s every move, which should ensure he ends up in a good position too.

The pace setters might come from team Ballydoyle. Highland Reel often races quite prominent and he’s likely to move forward right from the start. I would expect Dettori on Order Of St George to do the same from his wide draw. Whether both race too hard too early on is a valid question mark. New Bay might follow them closely.

The Winner: 

No doubt Postponed has allot going in the right direction. Draw, pace, form, likely position he’ll find himself in. He’s the most likely winner. However on ratings, official or RPR, this is a closer encounter than one would initially think. 2/1 is the current price, so in and around a 33% chance – a bit too short in my book.

Found, as classy a filly as she is, is more likely to find one or two too good once again I fear. The Japanese Makahiki is more interesting. If he finds himself in a decent position where he didn’t have to over commit in the early stages then he should have an awful lot to give when it really matters.

However in my book the 8/1 for Harzand is a criminal price. On the back of one poor performance, where we know there are valid excuses, bookies are happy to lay him. I imagine the return to 12f will be very much to his liking, the ground isn’t a problem, he’s a good draw and is a three year old with a handy weight for age allowance – if Smullen doesn’t drop too far off the pace, which I see as a slight danger to happen – Harzand will be a tough challenger in the finish.

Not mentioned yet has been New Bay. Last years Arc third. A talented individual, run with credit in the Irish Champion Stakes last month too and has a good draw today. He seems a bit below what is required to win the race in my eyes, though.

From the bigger prices Order Of St George makes plenty of appeal. He’s as highly rated as Postponed, though his shock defeat in the Irish Ledger is a question mark. But then he may find perfect conditions here. Dettori in the saddle will ensue a smooth ride to the front of the pack from the widest, but not necessarily worst draw. If he can get there without doing too much, he might have enough left to kick on turning for home. Given he lasts the trip thoroughly, he could then be hard to peg back.

Selections: 
Harzand @ 8/1 Betfred
Order Of St George @ 20/1 

The Big Race: 2016 Coral Eclipse

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ONLY seven go to post, the Derby winner isn’t here, the 2000 Guineas winner isn’t here, yet only two individuals can boast Group 1 success in their CV…. this years Coral Eclipse is a slightly underwhelming affair, I have to say.

But the good thing is: potential superstar The Gurkha lines up in an attempt to make amends for what has to be regarded as a wasted chance when he was beaten in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot roughly a fortnight ago.

The Gurkha went off odds-on in the Group 1 contest, though endured not the best of luck in-running and maybe, only maybe Ryan Moore didn’t have his brightest moment either.

Whatever, it’s the past – the here is now. Aiden O’Brien’s inmate, a son of Galileo (how could it be any different?!) stormed last month to global attention in the Poule D’Essai Poulains – the French 2000 Guineas – where he blew his rivals away with a turn of foot that looked out of this world. Can he do the same today?

Absolutely! This lad is massive talent! Stepping up to 1m 2f should not be a problem at all, if not even bring out further improvement, and the softish ground is no trouble either. As a three year old he receives some handy amount of weight in a race without a clear danger from the brigade of older horses. Right?

Probably. Though the top rated horse is the four year old My Dream Boat. On official ratings The Gurkha has to find two pounds with the winner of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Trained by Clive Cox, My Dream Boat clearly ran to a career best at Royal Ascot, helped by the soft ground that day. He’s a real mud lover, without a shadow of a doubt and will hope Sandown retains as much rain in the turf as possible.

In my view he is clearly the biggest threat to The Gurkha from the older horses, though whether he can give the weight away against a rival most likely to improve another couple of pounds – I find it hard to see.

Widely regarded as the biggest threat in the public opinion is Roger Charlton’s Time Test. What’s in his favour is the relative freshness. He only had one start this season – a successful one, here at Sandown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, a Group 3 event. It’s fair to say he may come on for the run and remains with potential to improve a bit for age, now as a four year old.

That says, he’s yet to prove himself on the highest level and probably is better suited to a fast surface. Yes, he does handle cut in the ground, but given a career best is required today, the ground is a worry.

Godolphin’s Hawkbill was a fine winner of the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot. He’s unbeaten in his last five starts, so obviously on the up and could still have more to offer. He relishes today’s conditions and his prominent racing style should see him in a good position when it matters most.

We can’t completely rule out Western Hymn. The “senior” in the race, he’s ultra consistent and usually puts his best foot forward here at Sandown. So it would not be a surprise to see him finish in the money. Still, something dramatic would have to happen for him to win.

Verdict: Whenever I side with a hot odds-on favourite, it usually is the kiss of death for the well fancied horse. Nonetheless I can’t look past The Gurkha today and find it surprising to been able to snap up evens odds. He’s more like a 4/6 chance in my book.

Prediction:
1. The Gurkha
2. Hawkbill
3: My Dream Boat

Photo: thoroughbreddailynews.com