Clash of the Champions – Arc could be the best since Dancing Brave
There may not be a Frankel but there is no doubt that this is one of the strongest fields ever to line up for The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. The last time such a strong field contested the race was arguably 1986 when Dancing Brave beat Triptych, Bering and Shahrastani.
The favourite is the Japanese Champion Orfevre who looked sure to win last year when surging to the front under Christophe Soumillon. He faltered in the closing stages and allowed Solemia to pinch the race on the line.
Soumillon came in for some heavy criticism for not delaying his move longer and he is hoping to atone this year. Orfevre has drawn stall 8, much better than 12 months ago when he had to overcome a wide draw in stall 18.
The unbeaten French Oaks winner Treve has been drawn in stall 15 and will now be ridden by Thierry Jarnet following Frankie Dettori’s fractured ankle in midweek. Jarnet had ridden the filly prior to Dettori’s appointment as retained rider to Sheikh Joaan Al Thani and already has two Arc victories to his credit.
German hope Novellist has drawn stall 12 and will be partnered by big-race specialist Johnny Murtagh. The pair romped to an impressive success at Ascot in the summer and connections report the horse to be in great form.
The first three home in the Prix Niel will take each other on again with Japanese Derby winner Kizuna hoping to confirm the form with Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World and French-trained Ocovango. Aidan O’Brien was delighted with the runner-up that day and he is re-united with Ryan Moore on Sunday.
O’Brien has also supplemented St Leger winner Leading Light who will be ridden by Gerald Mosse, successful in the race on Saumarez in 1990.
Andre Fabre, trainer of Ocovango, also saddles Flintshire, Pirika, Penglai Pavilion and French Derby winner Intello. It is a measure of the quality of this field that both French and English Derby winners can be backed at 12-1.
The worst sufferer in the draw was Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem who must start from stall 18. He has been beaten in his last two starts at York and in Ireland and will have to post a career-best to win from the wide outside.
The race, due off at 3.15 on Sunday, will be screened live on Channel 4.