RULER OF THE WORLD at Longchamp (15/09/2013)
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe takes place at Longchamp racecourse in the West of Paris on Sunday and it looks as though this could be one of the best runnings of the world’s premier middle-distance horse race since it was first contested back in 1920.
Bringing together the Arc’s signature selection of the best of the Classic generation and an illustrious smattering of older animals, the 2013 field features a host of proven Group I performers who will line up to do battle for a top prize of almost 3 million Euros.
With such riches on offer it is of no surprise that owners and trainers are willing to travel across the world in order to contest the Arc, but for the Japanese this race has become about much more than money following seemingly unfortunate defeats for some of their most beloved superstars including the great Deep Impact, who finished 3rd when odds-on in 2006, and Orfevre, who was just reeled in by French filly Solemia after hitting the front a touch too soon in last year’s race.
ORFEVRE before his 2013 Prix Foy victory
Orfevre returns looking to set things right under top Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, and judged by his smooth victory in last month’s Prix Foy, one of the premier trials for the Arc, he is in just the right form to do so. His recent canters at his temporary home of Chantilly have been electric, he has been handed a fair draw in stall 8, and he hence holds a justified position at the head of the market.
However, as we saw in last year’s running, Orfevre is a horse for whom things need to fall exactly right if he is to give his best and who is far from a reliable conveyance when given a few cracks of the whip and forced to fight. Given the caliber of Sunday’s field, he will have to have improved beyond all measure to take the prize on the bridle and, with all 60 horses who have, over the past 25 years, returned to Longchamp for another shot at the Arc having previously been beaten in the race failing to win, I feel there is better value to be had elsewhere.
Kizuna also represents Japan and will have the adept assistance of superstar jockey Yutaka Take in his bid to land a second Group I following victory in this year’s Japanese Derby at Tokyo. Having made the trip to Europe well in advance, he put in a great run to land the Prix Niel on Arc Trials Day after an absence of more than 4 months. In the process he beat 3 prominent Arc competitors in RULER OF THE WORLD, Ocovango, and Flintshire, however RULER OF THE WORLD was travelling just as well as the winner when losing a length and a lot of momentum after being squeezed out just after the 2 pole and I fancy him to reverse the form with Kizuna in the Arc. In fact, I fancy him to win the race!
Aidan O’Brien has won the Arc only once, with the brilliant Dylan Thomas in 2006, but certainly knows how to prep a horse for a contest of this nature and has secured the ruthless talent of Ryan Moore for the ride. Moore has plenty of experience around Longchamp, won the Arc himself on Workforce in 2010, and knows the horse well as he was onboard for his biggest victory in this year’s Epsom Derby. On that day in June RULER OF THE WORLD demonstrated his ability to travel, quicken, and stay, the three fundamental qualities that any Arc winner must possess, and, despite subsequently disappointing in the Irish Derby on ground which perhaps firmer than he would like, I feel that, following an excellent trial in the Niel and given a prime draw in stall 6, he is a stand-out each-way selection for Sunday’s feature at 10/1.
O’Brien also sends 2013 Doncaster St Leger winner Leading Light, but I believe he could lack the change of gear that will undoubtedly be required from 2 out faced with the like of French Prix de Diane-winning filly TRÊVE.
Trêve was unheralded before her run in the Diane (French Oaks) at Chantilly, having won but a Maiden and a Conditions Race, however she had always been held in high regard by her shrewd trainer Criquette Head-Maarek and there were whispers before the race that they had unearthed a special talent. And so it proved as she romped away with a competitive race, easily beating a range of Group I winners and breaking the track record!
From here paths logically led to the Prix Vermeille, a Group I fillies’ Arc Trial that is regularly a hot race in itself, but TRÊVE again put a good field to bed with ease, despite having to thread a difficult passage through her rivals. Many good horses would have been unable to retrieve the race from the position she found herself in a furlong and a half from home, but she possesses such a devastating kick that the daring move Frankie Dettori, retained rider to TRÊVE’s Qatari owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, was forced to make seemed a smooth and planned progression to the untrained eye.
Dettori will of course not be on board on Sunday having fractured an ankle when unfortunately unshipped from a lowly animal at Nottingham earlier this week, but TRÊVE will therefore be reunited with veteran French jockey Thierry Jarnet, who rode her to her Prix de Diane triumph and knows Longchamp like his own back yard.
TRÊVE runs away with the Prix de Diane at Chantilly (16/06/2013)
Having said all this, it seems surprising that the flying filly can be backed at odds as big as 11/2, especially considering that she lies at the very bottom of the weights due to allowances given for her sex and age. Perhaps her draw in stall 15 of 18 and the injury to her high-profile jockey have tempered punters’ ardour, however to my mind she remains a solid win bet at those prices and is definitely worth an interest.
The horses I have already mentioned would in themselves be enough to make a great horse race, but this is the Arc, a contest with pretentions to be the greatest race of them all, and so accompanying these superstars we also have André Fabre’s impressive pair of Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) winner Intello and Grand Prix de Paris victor Flintshire.
INTELLO – Winner of the Prix du Jockey Club 2013
Intello caught the eye early this season when flashing home to take 3rd from a wide draw in the French 2,000 Guineas before running away with the French Derby. He is clearly a smart animal, however the form of his Jockey Club win is moderate at best, he has never run over 12 furlongs, and would prefer a sounder surface to the soft we are forecast for tomorrow.
Flintshire had at one stage headed the Arc market following an easy win in the Grand Prix de Paris in July, but here again the horses he beat have failed to advertise the form. He could subsequently manage only an unspectacular 4th in the Niel and is therefore passed over.
Andreas Wöhler’s Novellist would have had to come into one’s calculations as he has gone from strength to strength this season, building on a powerful performance in winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June when scorching to a 5-length success in the King George VI. But we have heard this morning the unfortunate news that he will not take part tomorrow due to a temperature. Wöhler quite rightly believes that everything must be just right for a crack at such a trying contest and has hence done what is best for his stable star and withdrawn him. Let’s hope he can return to full health for a crack at another late-season highlight, perhaps at British Champions Day.
Of the rest of the Arc runners, Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem will likely have been primed for a big run as this will be his last race before retiring to the Royal Stud, but was handed the worst of the draw in stall 18 and will have to recapture his early-season brilliance if he is to figure at the finish on Sunday. The French trio of Ocovango, Pirika, and Very Nice Name have run some good races in defeat this term, however appear to lack the dash that will be needed to take this hot edition of the Arc.
I could continue and make a case for almost every runner in the field, which is testament to the enthralling race we have in prospect, but one can’t back them all so I will leave it at that.
Enjoy the race and…
Ruler Of The World – 1pt EW at 10/1
Trêve – 1pt WIN at 9/2
The WP – Where every Post’s a Winning one!