Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe preview

11 min

18 runners head to post for the 2017 renewal, that – don’t forget – is being staged at Chantilly racecourse again this year with the continued redevelopment of Longchamp.

It’s another fascinating contest but with the home-trained French challenge looking a bit thin on the ground this year the prize looks heavily odds-on to head back to either Ireland or the UK.

The powerful Aidan O’Brien camp will be responsible for five of the 18 runners, including their recent St Leger winners – Capri and Order Of St George – plus the classy filly Winter.

The Contenders

Capri landed the English St Leger at Doncaster a few weeks ago in gutsy fashion and you feel that if this turns into a slog then he’s your man. However, back down in trip to 1m4f is probably not ideal as it looked as if needed every inch of the 1m6f Leger trip last time and looks likely to want even further than that in time. He’s already being touted as a Cup horse for next season and figures high up the betting for the 2018 Ascot Gold Cup, so really, to me, unless the ground turns up heavy he looks vulnerable to something with a little bit more pace.

Capri (left) pictured winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Order Of St George sort of fits into that category too, but don’t forget he was third in this race 12 months ago so has shown he handles the track and despite having won over 2m4f on the flat he’s a slightly more versatile horse that does still show plenty of pace over this shorter trip. Certainly not one to dismiss lightly as horses that have done well in the Arc in the past often do so again.

Idaho and Seventh Heaven are other O’Brien runners, but their main hope this year – if jockey bookings are anything to go on – is Winter.

Ryan Moore has picked this 3-year-old filly as his mount as the former champion jockey looks for his second win in the race and getting weight from all the older horses then she’s got a cracking chance.

Draw 8 looks ok, but the big question mark will be how she copes with the step up to 1m4f for the first time.

Seventh Heaven (right) is one of Aidan O’Briens five runners in this race.

Yes, she was beaten over a mile last time in the Matron Stakes over in Leopardstown, but she’d looked impressive the time before over 1m2f in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and being by Galileo there is every chance she’ll improve again for the step up in distance. There is, however, a slight stamina question on her dams side (Choisir) of her pedigree, while with 13 of the last 15 Arc winners having won previously over 1m4f then this is a massive trend she falls down on. One for the shortlist, but, as mentioned, a lot will depend on how she copes with the extra yardage.

The UK challenge is strong this year too with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses a big player after landing the Eclipse and Juddmonte International this season, but it’s also worth noting he’s another that’s yet to win over this 1m4f trip. But, whereas Winter has never tried it, Ulysses has!

This 4-year-old still has plenty to prove over this trip and despite winning once at Goodwood over this distance, he’s been beaten twice since – including two starts ago in the King George. He’s been a massive improver this season and the Stoute camp deserve a lot of credit for that, but – like Winter – the jury is still out as to whether he’s as good over this 1m4f than he is over 1m2f.

Winter has the marquee jockey booking in Ryan Moore.

Where I’m Leaning

So, step forward ENABLE. She was the horse that trounced him and all the others in that King George back in July and really there is little reason to suggest she can’t-do the same again. She gets both the fillies and 3-year-old allowance here so will be racing off just 8-9, meaning the older horses have to give a horse that is already rated 122+ a massive 10lbs! While 10 of the last 15 Arc winners have been aged 3 years-old.

Frankie Dettori will be getting the leg-up on this John Gosden-trained 3-year-old, who comes here on an incredible six-timer after wins this year that have included the Epsom, Yorkshire, Cheshire & Irish Oaks and King George.

Frankie will also be looking for his fifth win in the race and that will see him go into an outright lead as the most successful ever jockey in this race – overtaking the likes of Pat Eddery, Freddy Head, Thierry Jarnet and Olivier Peslier, so there’s a nice added sub-plot to take into this year’s contest.

Enable (front right) pictured winning The Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

Those looking to take her on might look to the ground as he’s yet to race on anything softer than good-to-soft, but she’s handled that slight give well in the past so there is not that much to suggest she won’t like it even softer, and hey – she might even be better on it!

So, we’ll take Gosden to land his second Arc here and Frankie his fifth in a race that ‘girl power’ can win the day for the talented filly ENABLE.

Of the rest, the French-based Andre Fabre is always feared in this race with no fewer than seven previous wins in it. Yes, their challenge looks limited this year in terms of ability, but with three runners – Plumatic, Cloth Of Stars and Doha Dream – it wouldn’t be the biggest shock if one of them managed to sneak into the frame at massive odds.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Betting Trends

  • 14/15 – Had won a Group 1 race before
  • 13/15 – Had won over 1m4f before
  • 12/15 – Had 4 or more runs that season
  • 11/15 – Drawn in stall 8 or lower
  • 11/15 – Priced 11.0 or shorter in the betting
  • 10/15 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
  • 10/15 – Had run at Longchamp before
  • 10/15 – Had won at least 5 times before
  • 10/15 – Won last time out
  • 10/15 – Aged 3 years-old
  • 8/15 – Won by a French-based yard
  • 7/15 – Placed favourites
  • 6/15 – Female winners
  • 3/15 – Winning favourites
  • 3/15 – Won by a UK-based yard
  • 2/15 – Trained by Andre Fabre (won the race 7 times in all)
  • 2/15 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (2016, 2007)
  • 3 of the last 8 Epsom Derby winners that season have won
  • The average winning SP in the last 15 years is 9.0
  • Since 1976 we’ve seen just 2 winners aged 5 or older
  • 17 of the last 23 winners were aged 3 years-old
  • Jockey Olivier Peslier has won the race 4 times
  • Jockey Frankie Dettori has won the race 4 times

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