The Arc market has a great shape to it and the Major is mighty excited by the Longchamp showpiece. The Arc is on the Majors hit list of things that must be done in the coming few years.
For a start, it is cheap, if you happen to be in Paris. Entry is a fistful of Euros. You can buy tickets on the day and it attracts a crowd of biblical proportion. Viva Le Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
This years contest is a cracker. Two horses would have made it possibly the best renewal ever…. if connections had successfully stepped Frankel up to a mile and a half, clearly we would be salivating – Sometimes, a dream is wonderful – You can awake wondering which reality is the truth.
I also think the Arc de Triomphe is substantially poorer for the horse the Major would have backed, Pour Moi. The last to first run in the derby was über impressive and I had this one down as the Arc winner for some time – Alas injury means we are missing Pour Moi.
There is however quality left in abundance and the Major’s heart flutters at the prospect of this years renewal, it is good to be alive, n’est pas?
The Arc Market.
The market is 7/2 bar and this gives plenty of punting opportunity. Workforce is the horse that some cannot make up their minds about, 5/1 to 7/1 are both available.
|So You Think||5|
Sarafina 7/2 – The Aga Khan Power Mare ****
Sarafina deserves to be favourite in the Majors view. Her win the last weekend in one of the two Arc trials was superb. That said, the Aga Khan was lucky to keep the race in the Majors view. The french stewards have itchy trigger fingers and there is no doubt Sarafina barged her way through a non-existent hole to win.
That is what made her trial win in the Prix Foy so appealing to the Majors eye, she had already quickened to contend and then had the nerve and the power to come away again from the leaders.
She has not raced against three-year olds which puts a slight dampener on the form but she looks the best middle distance racer in France. Last year she may well have been a contender at the finish but for a shocking traffic problem turning for home – She almost hit the deck and rallied impressively to make third. In one sense this also troubles the Major, is she the sort to find trouble again? The Arc is the sort of race that needs a jockey cute to positioning and while Sarafina has the bravery, I just have this odd feeling that she might get herself into a hole again, after all she managed it on Sunday with just 4 runners!!….. instinct.
Overall, a significantly considered horse.
Workforce 5/1-7/1 – Sir Michael Stoutes Reigning Champion***
Last years Arc winner returns as a four-year old and fair play to Prince Khalid Abdullah who could easily have retired the star at the end of his classic season. On behalf of all racing fans, thank you.
This season has been a bit of a mixed bag. Firstly, a Sandown Group 3 on soft was won with a pleasing enough reappearance. Then came the Sandown showdown with So You Think where the latter got the better in a decent duel. So You Think seemed to hold Workforce comfortably that day but three vital things will be in Workforces favour on Arc day.
Firstly he has won at Longchamp. Secondly, the ground is likely to be soft and I think that will suit Workforce. Finally the Sandown showdown was over 1m 2f, a distance probably on the sharp side for last years Arc champion.
Workforce was also beaten in this years King George by Nathaniel. The Major put Nathaniel up that day and was delighted to see the game three-year old hold on. Watching that race, Workforce looked a lively threat closing to within a length before swinging wildly across the track.
I am not sure Nathaniel would have broken had Workforce stayed straight but clearly the veering was a concern. It normally shows a horse where something is wrong. Perhaps the King George run was not 100% Workforce. Furthermore, the ground was a rattling good that day and I am fairly sure, Workforce will go better on soft.
Overall there are too many questions about Workforce to allow the Major to back him.
So You Think – 5/1 Ballydoyle’s Aussie Import **
So You Think is tentatively one that the Major rules out at this early stage. This might seem harsh given the Aussie import, touted as one of the worlds best horses has had a terrific season and done little wrong. He is also a lovely looking dark horse.
His only defeat in Europe was in the Prince of Wales at Ascot where Rewilding, hardly the sort that the worlds best horse should be beaten by, got up close home to defeat So You Think. Ryan Moore was generally lambasted for the ride. He did send So You Think off pretty far from home to bring the bacon in and I am sure he would have held onto him for longer if he had the chance again.
Last time out, So You Think knuckled down incredibly well to see off a rampant Snow Fairy. What is not to like?
Well two things make him an uncomfortable proposition for the Major. Firstly, he has had a long season, the Arc will be his 6th race and a couple of them, including the last have been hard work. The second related fact is that I prefer my Arc horse to have had an entire season pointing at Longchamp. It was only today that connections of So You Think finally committed to the race.
This last issue prevails for the Major. It has not been a superb season for the Ballydoyle team, I suspect that they wanted other viable Arc candidates from the likes of Recital but have ended up with just one horse that has shown the likely form.
Reliable Man – 7/1 Prix de Jockey Club Champion **
The first three-year old to review and for that reason alone a plus. This years classic generation have been simply superb, it has been a good year indeed.
This horse has to be taken incredibly seriously in the Majors view. The Prix Niel Arc trial Group 2 win last weekend was impressive for two reasons, firstly it is always a terrific pointer to the big day and secondly, Reliable Man was eased at the finish. Impressive.
This winner stamped himself as a star when taking the Prix de Jockey Club which to be fair was probably not the strongest renewal.
Positives include the fact that ground will not be a problem if it gets soft and a likeable attitude.
The factors that put the Major off tipping Reliable Man are that his form is not very well tied into the leading British horses or older french horses. I am also unsure that this one has quite the turn of foot required to win an Arc, he has not shown a Sarafina type turn of foot. He is gritty though.
Overall, I find his price short enough and so cannot tip him for the Arc.
Nathaniel – 5/1 The Improver *** 11/2
On the 13th August 2010, a maiden was run in which Nathaniel finished second . I do not have enough superlatives to describe Frankel but suffice to say it was the only time he has ever gone off at odds against! 7 wins later, we know that maiden in the warm early evening light of Newmarket was a remarkable affair even if the good denizens of HQ did not fully realise at the time!
Nathaniel has hardly done the form any harm himself! A second runner up spot in his juvenile year hardly pointed to the horse being world class but whatever happened over the winter, Nathaniel landed in the spring of 2011.
He took his first race a class 5 Haydock maiden in eye-catching style. Then a runner-up in the Chester vase, a course I am not convinced would have suited him. If the result looked OK, it was franked firmly when the horse that got the better of him.
Treasure Beach, went on to be runner-up in a brave run in the Derby only defeated by the flashing Pour Moi and the exuberant teenager Mikael Barzalona.
Nathaniel missed the Derby and went straight to Group 2 handicap company at Ascot. The way he won that day makes you wonder if connections wish they had supplemented him for the derby.
Then came his real day of glory. The King George is a flagship race and his beating of Workforce and St Nicholas Abbey in receipt of 12lbs was still impressive. As mentioned above, Workforce may not have been at his best that day, on Arc day he will be in receipt of a slightly less generous weight for age allowance.
It is insanely difficult to overlook Nathaniel as a credible threat as this years three-year olds have consistently proven their elders wrong. Above So You Think, Nathaniel has been aimed at Longchamp for some time.
Considered. Should I tip him for the Arc? No. Would I put you off him, no.
Galikova – 7/1 Freddy Heads Special Filly ****
Galikova enriches the race bringing a touch of Goldikovas class but she is there on utter merit.
As a half-sister of Goldikova, the wonder mare who races for identical connections, it is delightful to see her turn out, a class act of her own, she has looked top draw several times in her classic year. Goldikova has been a reliable top class mare. Who says Galikova will not have her day in the sun.
Her french Oaks (Prix de Diane) second looked better when she defeated the winner last time out in her Arc trial. On a strict line of form with the yardstick Colombian, Reliable Man is under her thumb, we shall see about that on the day but she certainly has nothing to prove with regard to her right to an Arc stall..
I thought her Arc trial was a superb visual result. She still raced keenly, perhaps wanting to get on with things and still had the energy to put the field to bed. Given that was on soft ground, it is quite impressive.
Freddy Head will have left a bit off for the Arc too, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement, strongly considered.
Nakayama Festa – The Majors Lively 25/1 Outsider
Nakayama Festa is the final horse I offer to you under the spotlight. The Japanese raider surprised many when second in the race last year at a tasty 22/1.
That day showed a couple of things…. firstly he is a top class animal and secondly he is fine in the usual deadening french autumnal ground.
Back in the Far East he was probably over the top when trailed off in a Japanese Group 1 last November.
Since then he has been under wraps until Arc Trial day on Sunday. He went down fourth of four to Sarafina which is a less shocking result when you consider he led, setting himself up for the closer. While he is versatile, his best performances have come from off the pace and so it was, in one sense, surprising to see him bowl along in his Arc trial.
A few things strike me. Firstly, that a few lengths defeat to Sarafina is not in itself a terrible result. Soft ground presents no problem. I very much like the fact that Nakayama Festa has been entirely aimed at the Arc this year. He has had the french prep run and that is his lot.
More should come on the big day and at 25/1 there is plenty of value in this runner.
Summary – My Tip for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe
Class horses win the Arc. You have to look for those you genuinely think have the utter quality.
I also want a horse that was always aimed at Longchamp, not one that may have had other options.
My conclusion is that Galikova represents the best value. Sarafina certainly was beautiful on the eye but I worry she might find more trouble.
In a year where three-year olds have dominated, I want one on my side in the Arc and I am going for the headlining result of Galikova doing the business with all of her allowances. Ground is not a problem and the Major thinks a general 7/1 is utterly reasonable. 8/1 is available with Corals – Have a slice and thank me later.
Remember the Major had this right with Workforce last year, it is one of my favourite races, understandably.
If you fancy a lively price, I would tip up Nakayama Festa who is 33/1 with Hills.
Sarafina and Nathaniel are evidently the others I considered putting up as my Arc tip. So You Think and Workforce are the two I consider over-priced.
One final horse I have not run a deeper profile on in this post is Sea Moon. This one was so fancied in the run up to the St Leger but ground went against. On the day I thought he had a chance of catching Masked Marvel with a clear run, he did not get one. At 20/1, he is considered but has not shown enough.
Courage and shuffle those cards.