Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe preview

A year on from Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant 1-2-3 in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, we are back at Chantilly for the 2017 renewal. Last campaign, the contest was run on much better ground than we can expect tomorrow. While the case, as long as too much rain doesn’t fall in Paris goingforward good to soft ground should be a fair playing field for most.

Below is my horse-by-horse guide. Good luck with your bets!

1. Zarak (25/1)

Impeccably bred son of Dubawi out of 2008 Arc heroine Zarkava, connections finally saw sense in stepping him up to 12f last time out when he was a ready winner of the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud in a useful time. That form is still some way short of winning an Arc however; the close proximity of the out of sorts My Dream Boat letting it down. Likely to be dropped in from stall 18 meaning he’ll need a great ride and some luck. Outside place prospects at best.

2. Doha Dream (150/1)

A 150/1 shot in the care of Andre Fabre, Doha Dream simply doesn’t look good enough and is a possible pace-maker for the owners Brametot. Look elsewhere.

3. One Foot In Heaven (100/1)

Not a straight-forward character as he can sometimes get behind and race keenly, but granted his ideal conditions – a strong pace and ground with some juice it – he’s a solid horse. It looks like he’ll get his ideal set up here which makes him well overpriced at 100/1 especially when you consider his excellent 6th behind Found here last year. He comes into the race fresher than most and is reportedly in good form. While not classy enough to win, he is one at a huge price in the place market to consider.

4. Ulysses (10/1)

Exceptionally bred son of Galileo, Ulysses lacks nothing on paper with regards his pedigree and trainer. More importantly however, the highly progressive four-year-old has done it on the track this season, winning the Eclipse and International. Despite being stretched over 12f at Ascot in the King George behind Enable, on a less demanding track under quicker conditions he can still have a major say.  Why? Quite simply, there are few horses in this field that can match his ability. His draw in one will mean he needs plenty of luck in running, but he’s good enough to win this. No doubt.

5. Cloth Of Stars (28/1)

Shaped with distinct visual promise in his Arc Trial when far too keen and in a poor early position with regards the pace. Given his trainer (Andre Fabre), there is likely to be significant improvement fitness wise, but he simply doesn’t look good enough. Likely has to prove his stamina for a strong-run 12f, too, and every drop of rain will be a negative. Vastly overpriced compared to the German raider and his Prix Foy nemesis Dschingis Secret, mind.

6. Silverwave (100/1)

Closely match with Zarak on his Grand Prix de Saint Cloud effort (2nd) and his Arc prep in the Prix Foy screamed just that, prep. Wasn’t given a hard time on softish ground and will likely improve significantly for the run, but he doesn’t look good enough to trouble the judge.

7. Idaho (33/1)

Quite simply not an American type track horse and his progressive look has been halted by being poorly placed in North America last time out. Second in an average Derby in 2016, but has improved this campaign; his third to Enable in the King George a career best. Probably has more to offer, but while the case, this strapping son of Galileo won’t enjoy the sharpish nature of Chantilly and he’s likely to be outpaced before running on. Outside place prospects.

8. Dschingis Secret (16/1)

Can’t say I know too much about this German raider, have only seen him race once, when winning the Prix Foy. Visually, he was a ready winner and clearly goes well on soft ground, but I think that form is pretty poor. Cloth Of Stars is not a genuine Group 1 horse, was pretty keen and highly likely had that race as a prep on ground he’d want much faster. Looks an awful price.

9. Satono Diamond (33/1)

Japanese raider who came to Europe with a big reputation before flopping in the Prix Foy. He’s hard to recommend on that evidence despite the fact he’s likely to improve. Wouldn’t want any more rain.

10. Satono Noblesse (250/1)

Stable mate of Satono Diamond and his likely pacemaker.

11.Iquitos (125/1)

Another German raider I know little about, but beating Best Solution like he did in July is not Arc-winning form and it’s best to look elsewhere.

12. Order Of St George (10/1)

Top-class stayer as his 2015 Irish Leger and 2016 Gold Cup victory at Royal Ascot indicates. Robbed of the Gold Cup double this season by a poor ride, but a change in tactics since that defeat to Big Orange has seen him destroy an Irish Leger field by 9 lengths. Despite having the stamina for 28f, there is little doubt Order Of St George has the class to be competitive in an Arc over 12f. He was a fine third to Found in last year’s race despite being a touch unlucky on ground that saw him vulnerable. On sod that is sure to be much slower, once given a prominent ride off good fractions, he has strong each-way claims especially with last year’s first and second not back to take him on.

13. Seventh Heaven (50/1)

A proper 12f Group 1 filly against her own sex as wins in last season’s Irish and Yorkshire Oaks suggest. Looked like she could potentially improve to take on the colts this season when bolting up in the Jockey Club Stakes, but suffered a setback soon after. Her prep run for the Arc was horrendous (ran to about 76) and while she’ll likely take a huge step forward, it won’t be good enough on ground that’s likely to be softer than ideal on a track that won’t play to her strengths.

14. Brametot (22/1)

French 2000 Guineas and Derby winner that fluffed his lines badly last time out. Subsequently found to have had a back injury and now in better form. Has a bad habit of starting slowly and should he do that from stall 4, he’ll need a fair amount of luck. Has stamina to prove over 12f, but his French Derby victory and pedigree suggest it’s well within his compass. Stamina may not beat him, but class might – not quite sure he’s good enough and his slow starting habit is undesirable up in class.

15. Capri (20/1)

Irish Derby and St Leger winner who is progressive. The former race fell in his lap a touch, but in the Leger he made no mistake in an event where there was no hiding place. He’s going the right way and should enjoy underfoot conditions. While the case, I’m not sure this track will bring out the best in him and he backs up two weeks after a gruelling victory at Doncaster.

16. Plumatic (80/1)

Lightly-raced, well-bred French contender that has yet to win at Group level. Tough ask to do it here.

17. Enable (11/10)

One of few horses to brighten up a rather dull 2017 Flat campaign. The daughter of Nathaniel has done nothing but improve this season; running to 97 in April and as high as 124 when winning the King George (late July), on my figures. Her latest Yorkshire Oaks victory was a step back in numbers, but in truth, there was nothing in that race to challenge her and she won easily, doing it the hard way from the front, something she’d never done before. The runner up, Coronet, ran well in the Leger and all her form looks incredibly strong. Obviously the one to beat.

18. Winter (10/1)

Over a mile, she has been the outstanding three-year-old filly of 2017, winning both Guineas and the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. She showed she stayed 10f well enough when in winning the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood before being turned over last time out in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. Connections gave excuses for the defeat – she missed a week’s work due to a stone bruise – but visually she didn’t look too far below her best. While the undoubted class act over 8f against her own age group and sex, her level of form makes taking on older horses and colts a big step up in class. Factor in the doubts about her staying this trip and others appear better value.

Verdict

Of those to the fore in the market, Winter is the horse I can’t have at the prices. 10/1 looks a bit skinny about a horse I feel has plenty to prove against colts over a trip she may not stay. To my eye, Order Of St George holds the best chance of winning the Arc for Ballydoyle although it’s hard to fancy him for win purposes in terms of having a bet and he doesn’t offer much value each-way. The two three-year-old colts set to line up are Brametot and Capri. I’m not sure we have a good bunch of Classic middle distance colts this season, Cracksman is the best of them but he’s not here. Brametot’s habit of starting slowly on the back of an interrupted prep means I can swerve him. Capri is a tougher dodge as he is clearly progressive, but backs up quickly after a tough Leger victory. If you’re feeling lucky, One Foot In Heaven may be worth a small each-way play at 100/1 or a straight bet in the place only market (four places) may be better. He’ll come up short, but it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see him sneak into the places.

This sees me down to Enable and Ulysses, the two horses with by far and away the strongest form on offer in this year’s Arc, hence their market positions. That said, a ten-point difference between them looks far too wide. Enable is an even-money shot; that is a fair price. Ulysses is now a 10/1 play; that looks generous to my eye.

Sir Michael Stoute’s stable star has 4 ½ lengths to make up with Enable on their King George clash back in late July. On a less-demanding track, likely to be on better ground and on 4lb better terms, ULYSSES can close the gap. Furthermore, I think he has improved since they last met, hopefully strengthened up, too, as he’ll need to be at his very best to turn the form. On what we’ve seen so far, 10f is undoubtedly the selection’s best trip, but as stated above there are reasons that can allow him to stay this distance stronger later in the season.

Advice

1pt win Ulysses @10/1 (Betfair, Bet Victor, Paddy Power)

2.5pts win Ulysses ‘Betting without Enable’ @5/1 (Bet Victor), @9/2 (Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power)

 

 

 

 

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