LONGCHAMP DAY 2 (SUNDAY)
The first Group One race of Arc day is the Prix Marcel Boussac over one mile for Fillies. This race doesn’t look as strong as the one Found won last year but with Ballydoyle we have what looks a top class filly but may be one for next year. If the ground is soft and she already looks as if a step up to middle distances is required already. She looks like Gleneagles that she wants firmer ground. Antone comes here as one of two undefeated horses and clearly has a chance. The form of those two wins has been well boosted. One of the horses that finished behind that day is back to take on Antone again was Qemah. A winner over course and distance last time out which is a key trend. The Danehill Dancer Filly won nicely that day and this trip should suit if making most of her.
The remainder are fairly well exposed with one I fancy the most is Left Hand who is drawn well in stall two. Winner on debut in what is usually a good maiden for this race and she could run close at a good price.
Left Hand (E/W)
While the Marcel Boussac should stay in France, I would be amazed if the home team don’t win the Prix Jean Luc Lagadere. Aidan O’Brien again has the favourite and in Johannes Vermeer brings Group winning form to the table. That form is not the strongest on offer and looks vulnerable at a shortest price. The other Coolmore runner is Shogun and he has been sent off favourite on all three starts. Aidan O’Brien really holds this horse in high esteem but would need to take a big step forward on what he has shown on the track. Ventura Storm looks best of the British and his debut form behind Recorder is good form.
That said Air Force Blue is most likely the best two year old colt in Europe and Herald the Dawn finished three lengths down last time out in the Group One at Irish Champions Day. Kevin Manning gave him an easy time when beaten and the better ground here is likely to be in his favour. I think he is a stand out price at time of writing.
Herald The Dawn (WIN)
The first race for the older horses is the Prix De L’Opera over ten furlongs for the fillies and mares. Jazzi Top and Covert Love head the market in an open looking contest. The former won last time out at Deauville and had shown previously a good level of form against her own age with a fifth place finish in both the Nassau and Oaks. The Nassau run was eye-catching as she got no sort of run. However she may find some of these too good. Covert Love has had an excellent season for the improving Hugo Palmer with only one second place finish when been mugged on line in the Yorkshire Oaks. She must have a chance but the step back in trip to ten furlongs is a negative for me.
Diamondsandrubies beat champion filly elect Legatisimo in the Pretty Polly, that was under an inspired ride from Seamie Heffernan and she has not shown that level in subsequent starts. Odeliz beat We Are last time out but on faster ground may struggle to uphold that form. We Are is the selection and won this race last year for PicksFromThePaddock. Freddie Head is an expert at getting horses ready for the big day. I can easily excuse her last run with the ground firmly against her. Back on better ground she finished second to Treve on her previous start. Based on that she has the beating of these is taken to beat the classic generation.
We Are (WIN)
The big race is next in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe. Treve aims to become the first horse in history to win three Arcs in a row. While last year she was coming here after some average runs, this season she been flying, going through the season unbeaten and putting up an excellent run in her trial. However that said she is very short in what looks on paper a much better Arc than arguably the last two seasons. I’ll be trying to get her beat here.
The English Derby winner has been given a nightmare draw and will need to take another step forward to win from the carpark and also has his attitude to prove after nearly ducking out at Leopardstown the last day. He is feared but might have two much to do. The same can be said about Free Eagle who is drawn beside Golden Horn. While he might not have won the last day it would have been a lot closer. This has been the long term target and the ground has come right for him. The extra distance should bring out the best in him and if breaking well could get involved. The reason I would rather be with Free Eagle is on pure price basis compared to Golden Horn. As I really don’t think there is much between them as the market suggests. Found must come into this as well but she has an even harder draw. However has course form and won the Marcel Boussac on the day last season plus the weight allowance that 3 year old fillies get in this race will only play into her advantage. The off putting point is Aidan O’Brien’s record in France with three year olds. It is truly awful and is enough to dismiss her, not lightly however.
The rest are a much of a muchness with Flintshire likely to run his race but the one I have gone for is the French Derby winner New Bay. Given an almost impossible task against Make Believe in the French Guineas, he has since put that behind him and gone from strength to strength. His win over course and distance last time in the Prix Neil was visually very impressive. Form ahead of Highland Reel in the French Derby also looks well. Andre Fabre has suggested better ground will bring more from him. I think this horse is really special and should be involved.
New Bay (WIN)
Free Eagle (E/W)
The Abbay is next up, a fiendishly difficult race looks wide open and with Meccas Angel a non-runner looks an absolute lottery.
Sole Power and Muthmir are currently heading the market. The former was good in the Flying Five but that was a weak race and with there likely to be juice in the ground should struggle. Although the old boy has surprised me before. Muthmir has near ideal conditions and has to be respected from plum draw. He hasn’t been the most consistent this year and a case could be made that this fast five might not suit. Goldream will need to overcome the ground to be involved while Move in Time is interesting based on course and distance form last time and winning form in this race last year. He has a tough draw to overcome here however.
Maarek has a plum draw in two but will have to not leave himself too much to do. But he has excellent former record in this race and has been in cracking form in the autumn. It appears Evanna McCuthceon has him in excellent form and he is not so ground reliant anymore. He looks good value and will be arriving late on the scene.
From the field it would appear that the French have no chance however that is not the case in my humble opinion. Son Cesio has been running over longer trips recently and finished a close fifth behind Murhaarar over six and a half furlongs. However he has never finished outside the first two on three runs over the flat five. Going under the radar could represent value.
Son Cesio (E/W)
The next Group One action is the Prix De La Foret over seven furlongs. The only Group One race in Europe for older horses sees a crack field take their chance. Limato is an extremely short price. Probably too short. He was very impressive in Doncaster but that field was nothing compared to this and I would worry that the step up in class might just nullify the visual expression last time out. The remainder of the British and Irish challenge is headed by Toormore who is probably not a seven furlong horse on quick ground but with a bit off give should go very close and represents the best of the older horses. A mention must be given to Salateen who is a massive price. He ran an excellent race in the City of York stakes. But this is a massive step up in class. He has buckets to find. But could bring home some prize money.
The selection is Make Believe. Winner of the French Guineas, he hated the fast ground in the St James Palace stakes behind Gleneagles. I can easily forgive that run. Seven furlongs will be now problem. He has a plum draw in two, should be able to make all the running. Olivier Peslier should get the best out of him. This son of Makfi still has bags of potential left and has been grossly underrated here. Take an Industry price as the French won’t let him go off that big.
Make Believe (WIN)
We finish with the stayers race over two and a half miles. Litigant is the selection. He won the Ebor in impressive fashion. While that was off bottom weight in a handicap and this is a Group One. He left the impression he was up to this standard. Fields of Athenry was in behind that day and went on to finish 3rd in The Leger. Clondaw Warrior was well beaten by Litigant that day and there is no reason for me that form should be reversed. Fun Mac is interesting and has form in these big staying races but hasn’t won since his first run of the season. He is one who needs to be fresh to win.
The French horses are hard to weigh up and I am more than happy to take a chance on Litigant.