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.
E.W. : New Bay