Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp is the icing on the cake of one of the best racing festivals anywhere in the world. As John Gosden’s Enable attempts to make an historic third win in her last appearance in a race she has made her own over the last four years the cream of European flat racing stables will contest the two days that include no less than eight Group 1 races.
With the weather having turned distinctly autumnal over the last week and the ground at ParisLongchamp in no need of a high water table from the banks of the Seine, very soft ground is the order of the day with the Penetrometer reading escalating by the hour so the challenging conditions require careful analysis for this great meeting.
Already the amount of rain in the Paris region has accounted for the ante post hot favourite for the Prix de l’Abbeye, Battaash with trainer Charlie Hills calling it a day on the trip across the Channel to consider an alternative run in the Breeders’ Cup meeting over The Pond.
On the opening day of the two day meeting look out for Andre Fabre’s Ocean Atlantique in the Prix Dollar where the bottomless going will play into his hands. This will be a much less competitive affair than the Prix du Jockey Club, the French Derby, where he looked a likely winner until the last furlong and a half.
Trainer Ralph Beckett can’t put a foot wrong at the moment and makes the trip over with passport in hand to send Manuela De Vega out in the Prix de Royallieu over 1m6f. Another starter that will not be troubled by the ease underfoot the Lope De Vega filly can repeat her win in the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock and should prove hard to beat.
The Prix du Cadran over the Cup distance of 2m4f can go to Freddy Head’s Call The Wind. The six year old son of the great Frankel won this race in 2018 before just losing out to Holdthasigreen last year but seems to have improved again this term with three wins from four starts and should regain his title.
On to Sunday, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day, but the top quality action starts much earlier and a particular treat is in store with in the Prix Marcel Boussac, the one mile race for two year old fillies with a tremendous tussle between Cha Rossi’s Tiger Tanaka, Joseph Patrick O’Brien,s Pretty Gorgeous and Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover. Though Fev Rover makes the most appeal, Tiger Tanaka has been a big improver this term and although she has had a busy season has been tucked away for six weeks for this assignment while Pretty Gorgeous should relish the ground here.
It would be a fairytale come true should Enable and Frankie Dettori take an historic win in the premier middle distance race for all age horses in Europe in the twilight of their careers.
This will be Enable’s final competitive outing in Khalid Abdullah’s famed silks though her Italian lover will surely be seen in the winners’ enclosure many times more, but sadly the odds may be stacked against her this time with the water creeping up through from the overfilled Seine.
Meanwhile trainer John Gosden has been dropping hints all year that she has taken ever longer to come to hand this season and it realistic to say she has no more to come after eighteen races bagging the best part of twelve million pounds in prize money.
It may well be younger legs that take Europe’s richest prize and Jean-Claude Rouget’s Sottsass has been primed for this race. Third last year behind Enable and winner Waldgeist when contesting this huge contest as a three year old the Siyouni colt has been laid up for this race with his fourth place in the red hot Irish Champion Stakes serving as a proper warm up for Europe’s greatest race.
Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul, winner over C&D in the Grand Prix de Paris three weeks ago and given for that race by our in house tipster, The Mandarin can have a say as can Andre Fabre’s Persian King and both make great each way value.
With the withdrawal of Europe’s finest sprinter, Battaash due to the depth of the penetrometer the Prix de l’Abbeye can go to Dennis Hogan’s Make A Challenge who should relish conditions here and can add to the stellar season this Invincible Spirit gelding is having with four wins already up on the board.
The Prix de la Foret should go to the home team with Earthlight, held here to be one of the best three juveniles in Europe last year along with Pinatubo and Ger Lyons Siskin. After a disappointing fourth in the Prix de Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, though within a length of the winner, Charlie Appleby’s Space Blues in a red hot renewal, Andre Fabre’s stable star can return to winning ways having taken the Prix du Pin over C&D here three weeks ago.
This preview has been brought to you by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff