We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview Sunday’s Grand Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting in Paris.
The first Sunday in October will always be Arc day and the clash of generations on the Bois de Boulogne on the outskirts of in Paris as the best middle-distance horses in Europe meet in the world’s richest turf race at Longchamp.
The Grand Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was first run in 1920 and has been run every year since apart from the war years of 1939-40. During that time seven champions have won the race twice including the great Ribot in the mid 1950’s but on Sunday the five-year-old mare Treve will bid for racing immortality when she lines looking for an unprecedented third successive victory in the great race.
Trained by Madame Criquette Head-Maarek in Chantilly, the mare won her first two starts of the current season in workmanlike rather than spectacular fashion but she looked, arguably, better than ever when landing the Group 1 Prix Vermeille by a long looking six lengths on ground described as very soft but no worse than good to soft last month.
Visually it was the perfect prep race for the Arc and she is unquestionably better going right-handed than left; she is on the verge of racing immortality.
It should be remembered that she was actually retired to the paddocks, having won her second Arc last October only for connections to have a welcome change of heart and she is currently 10/11 at BetVictor. I remember quoting 8/1 for a third successive Arc to Tanya Stevenson of Channel 4 when the news broke that she would race on in 2015 and Tanya immediately rang me to confirm my text and our odds.
It is fair to say that the price was very popular with C4 viewers and there are a number of eager and perhaps nervous punters with 8/1 vouchers from BetVictor ahead of Sunday’s race.
Brilliant Derby winner Golden Horn will be supplemented for the race on Thursday by owner Anthony Oppenheimer at a cost of 120,000 Euros.
The colt will be packed off to stud at the end of the season and his owner was bullish, to say the least, when asked by Matt Chapman on ATR earlier in the week whether or not his multiple Group One winner could lower the colours of the hat-trick seeking mare.
Golden Horn (9/2 at BetVictor) will be ridden by Frankie Dettori on Sunday with the jockey looking for a fourth win in the race.
The Italian has made a comeback of almost Lazarus-like proportions in recent years and there were many, myself included, who thought his glory days were over when he was banned from riding for six months in December 2012 having been found guilty of taking a prohibited substance.
Dettori returned from his ban in May 2013 and a month later was, surprisingly, offered the post of retained jockey for Sheikh Joann Al Thani (Al Shaqab Racing) owners of Treve.
Dettori rode the French filly to win the Vermeille in September of 2013 but was injured in the run-up to Treve’s first Arc victory and replaced by Thierry Jarnet, who was previously unbeaten in three starts on the filly including a success in the French Oaks earlier in the year.
Dettori was back in the plate for her first two runs of 2014 but the four-year-old was well-beaten in both starts and looked a light of her former self.
Mme Head-Maarek wasn’t convinced Dettori was the right man for the filly and Jarnet was back on board for the Vermeille when she finished a well-beaten fourth. As a result she was allowed to go off at 11/1 for her second Arc triumph when she was value for a good deal more than the two lengths she coasted home in front of the admirable Flintshire.
The weather is set fair for Paris this week and that will surely suit Golden Horn but the dual classic winner has already run six times this term. Of recent Derby winners who have gone on to land the Longchamp showpiece, Sea The Stars was having his sixth start of the season back in 2009 and Workforce was having only his fourth start of the year 12 months later.
Golden Horn has only run once over Sunday’s mile-and-a-half trip at Epsom in June when he beat stablemate Jack Hobbs by three lengths on fast ground.
The ground looks sure to be on the fast side of good which should suit the Derby winner. The classic generation have won 18 of the last 25 renewals of the race and I have long thought that Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs would improve past his Epsom conqueror but it looks as if the latter is being kept for a crack at the Champion Stakes at Ascot later in the month.
The defection of Jack Hobbs is difficult to fathom. Yes, he was soundly beaten by Golden Horn at Epsom but he has only what was just a strong piece of work at Kempton in his prep run and will surely be fresher than his stablemate who, to my eyes, has had two hard races of late at York in August behind Arabian Queen and at Leopardstown when surviving a lengthy stewards Inquiry to claim the Irish Champion Stakes.
French Derby winner New Bay is trained by Andre Fabre and the impressive French Derby winner showed Sunday’s 12f trip holds no terrors when easily disposing of his field in the Group 2 Niel on Trials day.
His winning time was slower than that of Treve but he receives 5lbs from the super mare and that might be the difference in the likely absence of Jack Hobbs.
This is likely to be the fastest ground New Bay has encountered and, as a son of Dubawi, there is a slight concern that he won’t let himself down on the ground but he oozed class in his trial and looks to have had the ideal preparation for the race.
The race revolves around Treve; we have waited the best part of a century for a horse to win the end-of-season showpiece three times. History could be made and it would be great for the sport but the irony if Treve is touched off by Golden Horn, ridden by Dettori who is the retained jockey of the owner of Treve whose trainer basically jocked-off the Italian. Sacre Bleu!
That said, I think Golden Horn’s long season just might catch up with him. Jack Hobbs would be the selection if he faced the starter but that looks unlikely and the vote goes to Andre Fabre and an eighth Arc winner courtesy of New Bay who is 9/2 with BetVictor (1/4 odds a place).
For all the latest odds head to BetVictor.com and follow @BetVictorRacing on Twitter.