The 345th edition of the Wayward Lad blog.
This is a special edition of the blog for the race that brings down the curtain on the European “Flat” racing season – the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.
I am going to start with last year’s winner, WORKFORCE. Much was made of the trouble in-running suffered by several horses in this race last year, but Workforce suffered as well and had to come from well off the pace with his finishing run. He has not looked so straightforward this season and - judging by his run in the King George –his eyeballing defeat to SO YOU THINK in the Eclipse at Sandown in July has knocked the stuffing from him. His defeat in the King George was blamed on being struck-in-to. Whatever, he won’t relish another eyeballing with SO YOU THINK.
As such, SO YOU THINK has his measure. How good is he? I reckon he’s better than his official rating of OR127, by possibly another 3lb. He should relish this trip as he showed no signs of lacking stamina over 10-furlongs in the Eclipse and he was good enough to run 3rd in the Melbourne Cup over 2-miles (admittedly, off a lenient handicap mark, about 10lbs below what he should have been on). What’s more is he likes to be up with the leader, so he could take a deal of catching in the straight.
SARAFINA was 3rd in the race last year and many thought she could have won but for being badly impeded 3f-out. I must admit, I was not of the same opinion and I watched the race many times. Yes, she lost ground, but so did a host of other horses as the early leader weakened quickly. Personally, I thought her jockey left her run too late and I think connections may have thought that too, as Gerard Mosse has been replaced since. Without a doubt, the horse possesses a devastating turn-of-foot and while that will hold her in good stead in this smaller field (19 ran last year, this year it’s likely to be 14 going to post), I reckon this year’s opponents are better horses.
Of the others, GALIKOVA won a weak looking Group 1 (Prix Vermeille) LTO, and it was a slow time too (2.10 secs slower than SARAFINA on the same card) and you have to wonder if this half-sister to brilliant miler Goldikova will have the stamina to stay this 12-furlong trip which will probably be run at a searching pace. She’s not one for me.
NAKAYAMA FESTA ran a cracker last year to be 2nd, only losing to Workforce by a head. The horse did nothing wrong last year and was beaten on the day only by a better one, there were no excuses. However, that was a helluva final furlong tussle last year and he’s not looked the same horse since. He was easily swept aside by Sarafina in the Prix Foy and needs to find possibly 10lb+ to be in contention.
A more interesting run in that race came from HIRUNO D’AMOUR, another Japanese challenger. Do not under-estimate this one just because he hails from Japan. Remember, he beat good yard-stick St Nicholas Abbey in the Prix Foy at level weights and by 2½ lengths – and that was his first run in over 4 months so he no-doubt needed it. He was not pushed hard that day, and I liked the way he quickened-up 2f-out to pass St Nicholas Abbey inside the final furlong only to be caught by Sarafina in the final 50 yards. As such, I cannot see ST NICHOLAS ABBEY being involved in the finish.
RELIABLE MAN who Seville beat at Longchamps in July may well still be improving (he won the influential “Arc” trial, the Prix Niel, LTO, easily) and some good judges reckon he’s top-notch. He also has the huge advantage of the 3yo weight-for-age allowance.
SNOW FAIRY won both the English and Irish Oaks Group 1 classics last season. However, I reckon she’s best at 10-furlongs and, depending on how this race is run; she may not be far away from SO YOU THINK at the post. If it’s a slow-run race early-on and develops into a 5-furlong dash she has a turn-of-foot as good as any in this field and better than most.
The last of the realistic contenders is Irish Derby winner TREASURE BEACH. Remember, this horse beat Nathaniel at Chester in May and since then they have both gone on to win Group 1 races over 12-furlongs. He’s a prominent galloper though, and that’s not the best thing to be in the “Arc”. In his favour, he has always been held in highest regard by his trainer Aidan O’Brien, hence his entry at Chester in May (where he sends all his best 3yo’s). Although almost certainly over-the-top when beaten in the Grand Prix de Paris in July, he has since won over 10f in August (another Group 1) and has been rested since - so comes into this race fresh.
Of those with supplementary entries, MEANDRE is held by RELIABLE MAN and would need to make significant improvement to reverse placings with him. As for MASKED MARVEL, connections are surely looking to try and snatch one of the places (5th pays £100k, 4th £200k, 3rd £400k) and make a financial killing on the 100,000 Euro entry fee.
How do I rate the race, and my odds-line:
RELIABLE MAN – 122 + 8lb = 130(P)..........9/2 chance
SO YOU THINK – 130...................4/1
SARAFINA – 126 + 3lb = 129.................9/2
GALIKOVA – 118 + 11lb = 129...............12/1 (won’t stay trip)
SNOW FAIRY – 125 + 3lb = 128...............10/1
TREASURE BEACH – 120 + 8lb = 128(P)......8/1
MASKED MARVEL – 120 + 8lb = 128...........14/1
MEANDRE – 119 + 8lb = 127..................14/1
HIRUNO D’AMOUR – 124(P+).....12/1 (could improve 3lb+)
WORKFORCE – 123.................12/1 (spent force)
NAKAMAYA FESTA – 120(P)................16/1
St NICHOLAS ABBEY – 120............20/1
Any others @ 25/1 or longer
From the above, RELIABLE MAN at 16/1 looks tremendous value, as does the other 3yo Derby winning colt TREASURE BEACH at 40/1. They may not win what looks like a very competitive race, but one (or both) should be in the 1st-3 and you never know! Definitely worth an eachway wager.
Don't get me wrong, I reckon SO YOU THINK is the most likely winner - but the best horse doesn't always win the race (racing would be easy otherwise).
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Friday, 30 September 2011
Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe 2011
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