Yasuo Tomomichi's 3yo Deep Impact colt, Makahiki, carries the hopes for The Land of the Rising Sun.

Best Bets Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe 1m4f Chantilly Sunday – The great race is to be run, in this it’s 95th renewal, for the first time at Chantilly, while its Paris home at Longchamp is being rebuilt. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the “Arc” might witness another first, if (pictured above) Yasuo Tomomichi‘s 3yo Deep Impact colt, Makahiki comes home in front. The Japanese have been perennial bridesmaids in this since El Condor Pasa finished second to the great Montjeu in 1999. The Land of The Rising Sun produced three further seconds, Nakayama Festa in 2010, and then  Orfevre was the runner up in 2012 and 2013. Indeed the sire of their great hope this year, Deep Impact, was disqualified for a medicinal infringement when finishing 3rd in the 2006 renewal. Due to the weight of “fanatically optimistic” Japanese support, he was sent off an unbelievable 2/7 favourite. There is plenty of confidence amongst the oriental visitors this year that his 3yo son Makahiki can at last put the record straight, and his win over Midterm In the Prix Neil, over Sunday’s course and distance on September 11th, did nothing to discourage this view. But for sustaining an injury at a critical stage in The Dante Stakes, Midterm might well have won and started favourite for the Derby itself, so the form is solid. It was the Japanese colt’s first run for over three months so plenty of improvement can be expected and he must go to the start with a great chance.

J-C Rouget’s 3yo colt Almanzor is an animal at the top of his game. He won the French Derby (10 1/2f) impressively at 20/1 over Sunday’s course in June, and followed up with a comfortable win in a Group2 at Deauville. He was most impressive last time when winning the very competitive Irish Champion Stakes on September 10th from Found, leading inside the final furlong, and keeping on well. My slight reservation about him would be his ability to see out the 12f of the “Arc” which is usually run at such a strong pace. He is by the sire Wotton Basset, who never won beyond 7f. Having won all five of his juvenile starts he was a bitter disappointment as a 3yo and was retired. Almanzor’s dam, Darkova offers more hope. She never ran, but is a descendant of the French broodmare, Darazuna, the female line ancestor  of many good winners including Darsi and the Prix de Diane winner Daryaba. Almanzor certainly looked as if he would stay further in both the French Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes, but the jury has to be still out.

The Irish will be seeking an 8th win in the race and Dermot Weld’s English and Irish Derby winner Harzand could be the one to deliver it. His wins came as a result of a blend of stamina, speed and class and looks the type to be well suited by Sunday’s contest. A son of the 2009 winner Sea the Stars, he was only 8th last time, in the Irish Champion stakes over 10f, but besides being struck into early on and sustaining a nasty gash, he patently needs further so is easily forgiven. His uber successful trainer, who reports Harzand in top condition, would love to add this to his fantastic c.v. and with the outstanding record of 3yo’s in the race, (16 wins since 1995) must have a great chance.

Aidan O’Brien who has won the race twice before, is triple handed, and on paper his 4yo filly Found would seem to offer the best credentials. Azamour seemed to comfortably have her measure last time in the Irish Champion over 10f but a reproduction of her performance in last year’s Breeders Cup (12f) when lowering the colours of Golden Horn would make her a danger to all. Order of St George is a fascinating runner for the stable. He has won six of his last seven races, including The Ascot Gold Cup, all over distances in excess of Sunday’s contest. He was a huge disappointment last time, losing the Irish St Leger at odds of 1/7. However he never looked comfortable and it is reasonable to forgive a horse the one poor performance. Not many stayers contest the Arc but this veteran, yours truly, can remember Seamus Mc Grath’s Ascot Gold Cup winner, Levmoss, ridden by the Aussie Bill Williamson getting the better of the mare Park Top ridden by one, L. Piggot, in the 1969 renewal. With three Group 1s to his credit, O’Brien’s third runner Highland Reel is no back number. This son of Galileo was beaten fair and square by Postponed at York in August(10 1/2f), and again came up short last time in the 10f Irish Champion Stakes, but his win over Sunday’s distance in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July was impressive. Back over 12f he looks a bit of e.w. value at current odds of 25/1.

Roger Varian’s 5yo Postponed did have to work fairly hard to beat Highland Reel at York last time, but he was both dropping back in distance, and returning from illness. Back to his optimum trip at the weekend the son of Dubawi is going to be hard to beat, but that weight concession to the three year olds is a concern.

Andre Fabre’s 4yo New Bay, another son of Dubawi is attempting to give the French genius his 8th win in the contest. He was third in last year’s renewal and we can be certain that this year’s campaign has been geared towards Sunday. His 4th to Azamour at Leopardstpwn last time should have put him spot on, so returned to 12f has to be a contender.

Selection: Makahiki

E.W.     : New Bay

Betfred Cambridgeshire Tips

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Johnny Murtagh’s Eddystone Rock is expected to run a big race on Saturday.


Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap 1m1f Newmarket Saturday – With four of the last ten renewals going to the classic generation, the top rated of this year’s 3yo entries, Tony Curtis is worth a second look. Richard Hannon’s Rock of Gibraltar colt won two of his four juvenile starts ( including at listed level) and made a satisfactory return to action when finishing fourth in a Group3 over the course in April. Taking a very strong hold he tried to make all, and not surprisingly was headed a furlong out, but kept on well to finish a respectable fourth. Not seen for another 15 weeks, he again ran well to finish 5th in a Goodwood Group3, and thirteen days later finished 4th, again at Group3 level, where he was less than 2L behind Saturday’s opponent, Master The World, who finished 2nd. Upped to 10f last time he didn’t stay but back to what looks his ideal distance he is worth considering off his mark of 105.

Johnny Murtagh won this as a jockey on Educate (runs again on Saturday) three years ago, and must now fancy his chances of saddling the winner with his rapidly improving 4yo Eddystone Rock. Trained in France, with a conspicuous lack of success, for his first eleven races, he was sold for £28,350 at Tattersalls Autumn “horses in training” sales last year, and joined the Murtagh operation. He failed to win on his first three runs for the new connections, but the penny dropped on his fourth outing, a lowly Wexford maiden in May. (9 1/2f yielding). Since then progress has been relentless, with a facile victory in a Navan handicap off 80, and an even more impressive, close second next time, off a mark of 92, to an animal who next time out very nearly defied a 12lbs higher mark in a most competitive heat. Two months later, 30 days ago, he demonstrated in impressive fashion that progress had been maintained when winning a conditions race very easily from the 104 rated filly Laganore, giving her 9lbs. Laganore certainly upheld the form when going down by the minimum distance in a competitive Gowran Park Group3 next time out. Eddystone Rock looks well treated on a mark of 101 and combined with his proven ability to stay further is one for the short list.

Read the Oddsguru’s 2015 Cambridgeshire Handicap Tips.

It is 46 years since Prince de Galles won back to back Cambridgeshire’s, and Richard Fahey’s 4yo Third Time Lucky is the latest in a long line since, attempting this elusive double. It would not come as any great surprise if his shrewd trainer pulled it off, as he gets in on Saturday off a mark only 5 lbs higher than last year, thanks largely to having only contested three races since his dramatic Short head victory in last year’s renewal. Certainly his last run, 37 days ago, in a York handicap, where despite trouble in running he was beaten less than 2L off Saturday’s mark of 100 strongly suggests that he will be a danger to all.

A nose in front of Third Time Lucky in that York handicap, was Brian Meehan’s 5yo son of Dylan Thomas, Spark Plug. He has failed to catch the judge’s eye since May 2015 but has put up some decent performances in defeat, not least when finishing a close second to the very useful Ayrad in a listed Sandown contest in July. Spark Plug seems to have regained his confidence since his traumatic fall in the 2015 Hunt Cup, and handles most ground, so with his very able trainer hitting some form is another worth considering.

John Gosden, who has won this on two previous occasions, runs the very lightly raced 5yo Sacred Act. The son of Oasis Dream was making only his fifth racecourse appearance when winning a Class3 Sandown handicap 15 days ago off a mark of 89

In his first race for 16 months. There seemed to have been a bit of over reaction on the part of the bookmaking fraternity who immediately installed him as favourite for this, but it is worth remembering, that the Sandown  victory guaranteed the lowly weighted Gosden runner a place in the line up, and looks to me like a very shrewd piece of forward planning. Come Saturday evening Sacred Act may have looked a very well handicapped horse.

Sir Mark Prescott won the Cambridgeshire three times between 1988 and 2003 but has drawn a blank since. However his 4yo colt Celestial Path, 5th in last years 2000gns would have a serious shout at improving the Prescott c.v. If only slightly improving on his good run in a York handicap in July. Badly drawn and attempting to give the winner 15lbs he could be considered an unlucky loser in that strongly run heat, and is only 2lbs higher at the weekend. As excuses can be made for his two subsequent lapses he is definitely one to consider.

The James Fanshawe trained 6yo Knight Owl, running off Saturday’s mark of 92 ran a great race at Ripon last time. He was having his first run for over two months but was only beaten a Shd by course specialist Treasury Notes. This tough and rugged competitor, who is a course and distance winner wouldn’t need to improve much to be competitive and is considered.

Selection:   Sacred Act

E.W.      :    Knight Owl     Eddystone Rock

Growl to beat Orion’s Bow in William Hill Ayr Gold Cup

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Dandy Nicholls
has won this ultra competitive heat an impressive six times this century, so his two runners, Orion’s Bow, and Kimberella, have to be of interest. The former a 5yo by Pivotal, ran a great race in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood, finishing second, off a mark of 103 to the better drawn Dancing Star. He disappointed next time in the Great St Wilfred at Ripon racing off a mark of 106. Excuses can be made however as he was drawn on the wrong side, and had to be switched, so his 8th place wasn’t bad in the circumstances. Also it was his first run at Ripon, a course that certainly doesn’t suit all horses. Orion’s Bow is a most progressive animal having won his first handicap in July 2014 off a lowly 74 and his last victory in July saw him take a class2 Hamliton handicap (soft) of a mark of 97 winning by 3 1/4L from that good yardstick Hoof It. He handles most ground and it will come as no great surprise if he defies his new mark of 106.

The second Nicholls runner Kimberella is also very progressive, winning his first handicap in April 2014 off a mark of 82 and now running off 105. He was particularly impressive when winning a Class2 York handicap (Gd/fm) off a mark of 99 in July. Badly drawn in the Stewards Cup he finished 13th, beaten 4 3/4L off a mark of 103. He fared little better in the Great St Wilfred at Ripon finishing 10th, but the memory of that scintillating York victory remains, and given fast ground could get involved his new mark.

Read our Ayr Gold Cup preview from 2014.

Kevin Ryan has won this three times since 2007, and of his three entries, the 4yo Treuntum Star looks the least exposed. A winner of four of his thirteen starts, he was quite impressive when taking a Newmarket Class2 handicap off a mark of 95 on soft ground on his reappearance in April. Well beaten 19 days later on good, his shrewd trainer put him away until the Autumn, presumably to protect his handicap mark and exploit his preference for soft ground. Nicely treated and best after a break he is definitely one to consider, particularly if Irish maestro Pat Smullen takes the ride.

Richard Fahey’s 4yo gelding Growl is another who put up a fine performance in the Stewards Cup. Drawn out with the washing in stall 26 he had anything but a clear passage and Ryan Moore did well to finish fourth, full of running, only a nose and a head behind Orion’s Bow in second and Raucous in third. He meets the Nicholls horse a pound better at the weekend, and Raucous 5lbs better, so having had a welcome break  since Goodwood looks a worthy favourite.

David O’Meara’s 6yo gelding by Pivotal, Watchable, has been campaigned at listed or Group level in his last four races, and indeed finished a very respectable 3rd in a German Group2 last time out. He ran in a handicap at Royal Ascot in June where despite a poor draw finished 5th of 25 racing off a mark of 108. Racing off the same mark on Saturday, and coming from this yard he’s worth a second look.

Only one 3yo (Don’t Touch last year) has won this in the last decade, but W Haggas’s Raucous, a colt by Dream Ahead has plenty to recommend him. Eighth in the Gp3 Jersey stakes at the Royal Meeting, he finished a good 3rd in a Newbury Gp3 behind older horses next time out. Badly drawn in the Stewards Cup he ran a cracker off a mark of 102 to finish third. He ran inexplicably badly next time when a well backed 7/2 2nd fav for a listed race at Headquarters and in the subsequent stewards inquiry nothing came to light. However it often proves wise to forgive a horse one bad run and off his mark of 106 this talented 3yo is worth considering.

If Roger Varian’s Certificate, a 5yo gelding by Pivotal runs here in preference to a lNewbury engagement on Friday he must be of interest. Relatively lightly raced, he has been campaigned over further than 6f and has won his last two races, both over 7f.  He travels well, racing up with the pace, so the drop back in distance may not be a disadvantage. Indeed his ability to stay further may prove an asset. More of a concern would be, that on the three occasions he has encountered ground with soft in the going description he has drawn a blank.

Selection:   Growl

E.W.     :   Orion’s Bow