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Comprehensive Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe preview

I tend to reserve my previews for the big international races these days, where I feel there is reward for effort chasing all the video links and trying to line up the form. So now you can reap the benefits.....

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Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe
G1, Weight for Age, 2400m
1630 Paris time, 1530 London, 0130 Melbourne


Flintshire
Not won for over a year, and started favourite in three of those five starts = MONEY MUNCHER. Ran second in the Prix Foy three weeks ago. Beaten 12L behind Treve last year, when drew perfectly and had the weight advantage. Just a handy wfa performer, doubt he'll be troubling these even from gate four.

Ruler Of The World
Won the Prix Foy recently by leading all the way, ending a 15 month losing drought since the 2013 Derby. Won nicely but it was a small field and there are doubts on the ability of those he beat. Ran seventh here last year (beating Flintshire by 3/4L) when drawn the same gate. Leading/taking up a very forward position might just be his best chance of a result here, there's not that much competition for the lamplighting duties.

Al Kazeem
Ran sixth last year, couldn't get it up at stud so came back to the track and hasn't produced anything to suggest he is any more than nuisance value here. A G2 at Windsor is his only victory since the Coral Eclipse of last year. Well beaten last time in the Irish Champion Stakes, can't see him getting any closer than that. Perhaps chasing the rumps of so many quality fillies might get his loins working properly...

Ivanhowe
Caused a shock in the Grosser Preis von Baden by beating then-Arc favourite Sea The Moon by three lengths, before it was found that the dominant 2014 German Derby winner was injured and soon after retired. Started favourite in the 2013 German Derby (well beaten) and finished down the track behind Spiritjim in the Grand Prix de Chantilly in June. Not likely, even before he drew 19.

Spiritjim
Ran up five wins in a row before the biggest win of them all, the G1 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud was taken off him for a banned substance. Won nice races away from the heart of the season. Finished third behind Ruler of the World and Flintshire in the Prix Foy, won't be troubling the judge.

Gold Ship
The genuine stayer of the Japanese brigade, you won't miss him in the field, his coat is almost white. In the Takarazuka Kinen, he stalked the pace in a quality field, made his move on the turn and ran away from the likes of Gentildonna and Win Variation. Second to Harp Star in the Sapporo Kinen at his most recent start six weeks ago. The filly had the race set up for her and has a similar weight advantage to this race. Won't be afraid of this turning into a hard grind, he has won over significantly further. Drawn two, will be hoping to go to sleep on the rail for the first mile and then work his way clear on the turn. Very talented but doesn't have the explosive pace of his two compatriots.

Just A Way
There's a lot of hype about this horse after his win in Dubai, so let me take a look at him in more detail.

Autumn Tenno Sho 2013 - Brained a very good field (Gentildonna, Eishin Flash ran the placings) almost 12 months ago. The last 200m that day was slowest for the race, but he was already in front by then, and kept running away.

Nakayama Kinen - Nice run, settled close to the pace, poked through on the rails upon straightening and strode away.

Dubai Duty Free - Just destroyed a handy field, set up by the breakneck pace from compatriot Tokei Halo. Time was fast by 3.88 seconds on Racing Post data but they only came home in about 36s for the final 600m. How many of the other runners in that field would be worthy of a place in this field? The Fugue and Vercingetorix perhaps.

Yasuda Kinen - Won by a nose over a 147/1 shot on the local tote, inclined to think he hated the soft going (hadn't seen it since unplaced as 2yo in only run on ground worse than good). This success made it four wins in a row. Has only won five of 18 starts, definitely a late maturer.

Can he run 2400m? Why the hell not? Has an explosive burst of pace, just needs to time his run. Four months since his last run, hopefully doesn't go into the race 'too' fresh and endangering his ability to run the 2400m.

SHOCKING STAT - only four horses above the age of four have won the Arc since WWII. Al Kazeem is six, Gold Ship and Just A Way are five year olds. Is it the weight advantage for the 3yos or the better horses from previous European generations will already be off to stud?

Treve
Sensational winning this last year, perhaps a shadow of her former self this year. Could only run fourth in the Prix Vermeille three weeks ago, a race she won easily last season. But this year's edition was a slowly run race and she came from last, coming home a few lengths better than 22.6 (leader to leader) for the final 400m. So was it just a poor ride? The winner was a 22/1 shot who hasn't lined up here, and Treve failed at 4/5 (after failing at 8/13 and 3/10 in previous two starts - MONEY MUNCHER). Trainer is talking her up as back to her best but I won't be falling for that. Drawn three, might get a nice smother closer to the pace but going to need every break possible to become the first back-to-back Arc winner since the mid-70s.

Chicquita
Irish Oaks winner last year who ran 4L second to Treve in the French equivalent. Just one run this year, no evidence to suggest she has improved and I hardly see that happening for a horse moving into the Aidan O'Brien stable. Drawn the carpark, can't see what she adds to this field.

Siljan's Saga
Trading at 300 on Betfair and that's probably still unders.

Ectot
The wildcard in this race. Impressive record of six wins from seven, but how strong is the 3yo crop of colts he has been beating? His last victory in the Prix Niel was an odd one. The time was decent, he cruised up, idled in front and then kicked on to win by a narrow margin, but the third horse Adelaide had no luck in the straight and should have won. The second horse Teletext finished 2.5L behind Prince Gibraltar in the Grand Prix de Paris, and he's a 33/1 shot here. So either the form isn't good enough or Prince Gibraltar (and Free Port Lux) is big overs.

Montviron
One start at Listed level and ran last. Stablemate of Ectot, will be setting the pace for as long he can keep up.

Prince Gibraltar
Won the Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud in easy fashion, then started fav in the Prix du Jockey Club but never saw a clear run and ran third behind The Grey Gatsby, a formline which has proven stronger by the month. Narrow second to Gallante, (33/1 shot, a Montjeu colt who is unbeaten on wet tracks) in the Grand Prix de Paris (shocking racecall!) on very soft going, no other excuses. Didn't appear able to accelerate on heavy ground at Deauville last time. Drawn beautifully in 9, great each-way chance at the price.

Kingston Hill
Won the St Leger last time at Doncaster but had that race been run in France, I'd be offering 1.05 that he'd have lost it in the stewards' room. Moved into the race nicely before he misbehaved, is he good enough to beat these? I doubt it, especially drawn 20.

Free Port Lux
125/1 shot trained by Freddie Head and ridden by Mikael Barzalona. Gate 17 makes it rather tough but he has some decent form around him. Beat Adelaide early in the season (Gallante third) in the Prix Hocquart at Longchamp, but hasn't been as strong later in the season. Midfield finish most likely.

Avenir Certain
Undefeated local filly who has won the Guineas (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches), the French Oaks (Prix Diane) and most recently the Prix de la Nonette, all comfortably, the latter extremely. Drawn the paint, will need to kick up early to sit behind the pacemaker or pray for luck. Huge chance but the query is why regular rider Gregory Benoist went with Ectot rather than her.

Dolniya
Won the Prix du Malleret then ran third in the Prix Vermeille, finishing slightly ahead of Treve with exactly the same run. Form before the Prix du Malleret was in lower grade and inclined to think she's not up to these.

Taghrooda
To my mind, she is star of British racing this season. In The Oaks , she simply pissed in. In the King George, she always had them covered. But there's a knock on that form - not one horse from that race has since won. Started 1/5 in the Yorkshire Oaks but was turned over by Tapestry. Disappointing on the day but turned out to be in season.

I love this filly, have only backed her twice, those two G1 wins. Reportedly back to her best on the track, her biggest asset is tactical speed to get into the right position. Drawn 15 which is probably not too bad a thing. There's not much pace in this race, she shouldn't have to use a great deal of energy to take a forward position.

Harp Star
If you go by tradition and the dominance of three year olds in recent years, this is the big Japanese hope. Her last three runs:

Japanese 1000 Guineas - Huge run from last (RH track), started tote equivalent of 1/5.

Japanese Oaks - Beaten a neck but was running home well. Importantly, it was the pace of the race that beat her. In the 1000 Guineas, they went hard all the way and the last two 200m sectionals were the slowest of the race - a backmarker's nirvana. In relative terms, they walked in the Oaks, and the last 800m produced the four fastest 200m sectionals of the race. To get so close was a huge effort.

Sapporo Kinen - (Japanese commentary, she's #8). Fast early pace, the closing 200m sectionals were all 12 seconds or higher. Again, perfectly set up for backmarkers. She started 3.7 this day and received 5kg from Gold Ship, for a winning margin of 3/4L. This was her first run in open company and she did it nicely.

Four wins and two seconds from six starts. If she has settled well in France, and gets the pace she needs, then it's her race to lose. She has always come from the tail of the field. Where is the pace in the race, or does she have the as-yet-unseen tactical speed to overcome it?

Tapestry
Impressive beating Taghrooda in the Yorkshire Oaks but blotted that form with a ninth of ten in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, after suffering interference in the straight but was never going to win it. Ryan Moore back aboard, you'd think Ballydoyle have her stoked right up if they've paid £220k for the late supplement fee. Then again, that's pocket change to the owners and only represents a big bet at a slightly shorter price than she will start.

ANALYSIS
History says three year olds dominate this race and I think the fillies have lengths on the colts. The stat about the lack of 5yos winning is concerning, but I think that matters more for European breeders than it does with the Japanese. Montviron the obvious leader, Ruler Of the World should go with him. Taghrooda should be able to get across into a handy position while Ectot and Harp Star will be out the back.

1. Avenir Certain
2. Taghrooda
3. Harp Star
4. Prince Gibraltar
5. Just A Way
6. Ruler of the World
7. Gold Ship
8. Ectot

Backing the top two picks, taking trifectas around the three fillies and laying Treve the place.

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