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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe

This is “the” race of the European flat season.
It holds a special place in the hearts of the British racegoer, and my memories of it go back to my childhood watching grainy black & white pictures on the BBC which gave up perhaps a 10 minute slot on a Sunday afternoon. The focus of attention was always on the mount of Lester Piggott, and he rode some great horses, unfortunately mostly in defeat. Sir Ivor, Park Top, and Ardross to name a few.
This year’s race is no less alluring. Can runaway Derby winner Workforce recapture his spectacular effort of that day in June? Will the winner of the Prix Niel – Bekhabad – uphold that races great record of providing winners of the “Arc”? Can Youmzain finally go one better after finishing runner-up 3 times to the brilliance of Sea The Stars, Zarkava, and Dylan Thomas?
My take on the race is that it looks fairly open, and yet there is in the ranks a horse who, but for Sea The Stars, would easily have been the champion 3yo colt of 2009; and that is FAME AND GLORY. He has a poor draw (drawn 1 of the 20 starters), but on the rain-softened “very soft” going that may not be a bad thing as I reckon it may prove difficult to come from a long way behind today and take the race. He is my idea of the winner on class alone and at 11/2, he represents a fair wager. The only other horse who looks capable of running better than his current odds is CAVALRYMAN who ran 3rd in this race last year. Forget his other poor runs this season, he has been aimed solely to run well in this race, and with the application of 1st-time blinkers and the going probably much in his favour, he will almost certainly run better than his current odds of 18/1.

That’s it for the season as far as Flat Racing goes. From now until we know the winner of the 2011 Grand National it is jumps all the way! To be fair, I have been winding-down the flat racing operation for a few weeks now, and September is never the best of months to be looking for winners on the flat as the unpredictable weather affects the going, and that affects the results. That is not to say that winners cannot be found, but you have to search for them even harder than normal.

There was a tremendous day’s racing at Newmarket on Friday with a couple of cracking performances from the 2yo’s, both fillies and colts. It was the performance of DREAM AHEAD that looked the most impressive of the day when winning the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. The horse looked very imposing before the race and was physically much bigger than the others. That superiority showed in the race as his jockey was restraining him at halfway and merely had to loosen his hold on the reins to let DREAM AHEAD lengthen his stride and it was “game over” in a matter of strides. The acceleration was phenomenal and it is very rare that a Group 1 race is won in such an emphatic manner. The question to naturally ask is “what did he beat?” Approve in 3rd won the Gimcrack (Group 2). Temple Meads (3rd in the Gimcrack) won the Mill Reef (Group 2).Strong Suit won the Coventry (Group 2). So, without doubt, this was as good a field as any ever assembled for the race. I thought the pace to halfway in this 6-furlong race was moderate, and DREAM AHEAD was certainly “hard-held” at the rear, altho’ he was only 3-lengths off the pace. With the race won and DREAM AHEAD in an unassailable lead, the remainder of the field “relaxed” and the only downside of the result is OR90 rated Foghorn Leghorn coming in 5th just 2-lengths behind OR113 rated Strong Suit. It may be that the going suited DREAM AHEAD (by Diktat, and his progeny appreciate “cut” in the ground) more than the others and the result is exaggerated. I would also worry about his physical size as he may not have much growth left in him over the winter.
On paper, the performance of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes winner HOORAY was even better. Making all at a terrific pace, the filly had them all beat inside the 2-furlong pole and won in a time 0.19 secs quicker (about a length). HOORAY is by Invincible Spirit and that sire has an excellent record with his 2yo’s and tho’ some do train on, HOORAY may be best at trips under a mile as a 3yo. From what I have seen, I would not be having an antepost wager on either for their respective Guineas races.

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