ON THE RADAR
Underfoot conditions will probably be a crucial consideration for punters taking a financial interest in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe meeting at Chantilly this weekend, not just in the centrepiece itself but also in the Prix de l'Abbaye and the Prix de la Foret. So long as the ground is close to good, however, I think Limato has an outstanding chance of taking the last-named of those three Group One races for trainer Henry Candy. Limato has been recommended to readers of Talking Horses several times in the past couple of years and my ratings suggest he is Europe's most talented horse over six furlongs when the going is not overly-soft. He seems almost as good at seven furlongs, as he showed when finishing second in last term's Prix de la Foret, and should prove too tough for his rivals on Sunday, 2 October.
Newmarket's opening one-mile maiden on 22 September was almost certainly a decent contest and a significant number of future scorers appear sure to emerge from among the defeated runners. Second-placed Vantage Point, for example, must have sound prospects of breaking his duck in the long term, as he was beaten just two and three-quarter lengths behind the potentially-useful winner Eminent and is bred for middle distances at three, being by Galileo from a mare successful several times in the US.
Mudallel posted an encouraging debut performance in the second division of a seven-furlong maiden at HQ the following afternoon and looks capable of landing a similar event in the next few weeks. Ed Dunlop's colt - a son of Invincible Spirit purchased for 380,000gns as a yearling - finished runner-up, beaten only three-quarters of a length, behind the more experienced Via Serendipity and, having been sent off at 20-1, and raced a little keenly in the early stages, seems likely to improve for this first start.
Barney Roystruck first time out in Haydock's one-mile maiden on 24 September and, when doing so, earned a rating on my scale that indicates he can score at a higher level. This Richard Hannon-trained Excelebration colt was not the only runner in the race who caught my eye, however, as the third, John Gosden's Crowned Eagle, was noted staying on strongly after encountering traffic problems. A son of Oasis Dream related to Eagle Top and The Lark, Crowned Eagle will handle a stiffer test next season.
Moon Racer and Ballyandy, the winners of the last two runnings of Cheltenham's champion bumper, clashed in a two-mile novices' hurdle at Perth on 22 September and fought out a thrilling finish. The former narrowly prevailed - collecting by three-quarters of a length - and, with the pair coming home 20 lengths ahead of the 111-rated third, Lake Malawi, the level of form they showed speaks for itself. Both Moon Racer and Ballyandy, whose jumping was slightly better, are worth following this winter.
Andrew Balding's method of training, which means his juveniles usually take a marked step forward after their first start, has often been referred to in Talking Horses and it was illustrated once again by the performance of Highland Pass in a seven-furlong conditions contest at Newmarket that same day. Balding's filly, only fourth on her all-weather debut, was no match for Urban Fox at HQ, filling third behind that previously Group-placed winner, but did enough to indicate she will soon break her duck.
Marracudja made an excellent start to his novice chasing career when scoring easily over an extended two miles at Newton Abbot on 26 September. The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old, officially rated 140 as a hurdler, jumped nicely and made all the running to beat the more experienced Ballybolley by nine lengths. Nicholls plans a return to the Devon venue for Marracudja - who seems ideally suited to level courses - and it is not difficult to envisage the French-bred gelding following up under a penalty.
DIGGING THE DIRT
Sincil Bank seems to have the perfect opportunity to gain compensation for his debut disqualification when returning to Newcastle's all-weather course for a seven-furlong maiden event this Thursday, 29 September. David Simcock's colt was demoted by the Gosforth Park stewards after hampering a rival back in late August but - as I pointed out shortly afterwards in Talking Horses - he showed enough on that occasion, when narrowly beating the promoted Mushaireb, to suggest he can land a similar event.
NOTED ON THE GALLOPS
Hugo Palmer appears to be planning to give a two-year-old filly named Alouja her first experience of racecourse competition in the near future and, judged on the way she looks, this powerful daughter of Poet's Voice will hold her own in maiden company at the very least. A 420,000gns yearling purchase, Alouja is related to a host of classy winners, more than one at Group One level, so is bred to be smart.
Palmer also looks likely to launch the career of a juvenile colt called Munawer before the current Flat season on turf comes to a conclusion and he, too, seems to have sufficient ability to break his duck. A son of Dutch Art, Munawer cost 350,000gns and is from the family of the 2008 Horris Stakes winner, Evasive. Given his pedigree, Palmer's charge will probably handle seven furlongs with cut underfoot.
STATS THE WAY TO DO IT
Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Chantilly, Sunday, 2 October)
With Longchamp currently out of commission for a major redevelopment, this season's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, scheduled to be run on Sunday, 2 October, will be staged at Chantilly.
Obviously, nobody can say how much the switch of venues will affect the result - if, indeed, it does - but a look at trends from the past decade might help punters assess other aspects of the race.
The first stat to note when contemplating a bet on the Arc, a contest attracting some of the best horses in the world, is that nine of the last ten winners went to post as a previous top-flight scorer.
Seven - Rail Link (2006), Dylan Thomas (2007), Zarkava (2008), Sea The Stars (2009), Danedream (2011), Treve (2013) and Golden Horn (2015) - had been successful on their latest start.
The three exceptions - Workforce (2010), Solemia (2012) and Treve (2014) - had finished fifth, third and fourth on the their most recent outing.
Solemia was also the exception to the aforementioned Group One trend, as her biggest success prior to taking the Arc had come in Saint-Cloud's Group Two Prix Corrida in May of 2012.
Each of the last ten winners - Sakhee in 2001 was the most recent victorious candidate not to fulfil this criterion - had also already registered a victory over the big race distance.
Six of the last ten Arc winners - Rail Link, Zarkava, Sea The Stars, Workforce, Danedream, Treve (2013) and Golden Horn - took the prize as a three-year-old.
Three four-year-olds have been successful in the past decade - Dylan Thomas, Solemia and Treve (2014) - but no winner aged more than four has scored since the five-year-old Marienbard in 2002.
Favourites have a relatively modest recent record, notching two wins in the past ten years, thanks to Zarkava (13-8) and Sea The Stars (4-6).
That means, of course, that consistently backing the market leader has proved a costly exercise.
Supporting second-favourites has not been especially productive, either, since just two of those - Treve (9-2 in 2013) and Golden Horn (9-2) - have come home in front.
This does not indicate backing outsiders offers a path to riches, however, unless you have been lucky enough in the period under scrutiny to pinpoint Danedream (20-1) or Solemia (33-1).
The Prix Niel, a race for three-year-olds run over the Arc course and distance in September, has been by far the best 'trial' in the past decade.
All the winners of that event to follow up on the first Sunday in October have been colts.
Five fillies - Zarkava, Danedream, Solemia and Treve (twice) - have landed the Arc in the last ten seasons.
Five of the last ten Arc scorers - Rail Link, Zarkava, Solemia and Treve (twice again) - represented trainers based in France.
Alain de Royer-Dupre (Zarkava), Andre Fabre (Hurricane Run and Rail Link), Carlos Laffon-Parias (Solemia) and Criquette Head-Maarek (Treve) were the handlers responsible for that sextet.
Two of the last ten winners, meanwhile - Dylan Thomas (from Aidan O'Brien's stable) and Sea The Stars (representing John Oxx) - were trained in Ireland.
Workforce, saddled by Sir Michael Stoute, and Golden Horn, from John Gosden's stable, have been the only successful British raiders in the past decade and Danedream's victory gave Germany - in her case via the yard presided over by Peter Schiergen - its first win since Star Appeal way back in 1975
BIG RACE FOCUS
Alice Springs looks a worthy favourite for Newmarket's Group One one-mile Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, which is part of a fascinating card at Flat HQ this Saturday, 1 October.
Admittedly, according to my ratings, Aidan O'Brien's filly (rated 114) has nothing in hand over the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Ervedya (also 114), but the latter has not been at her peak recently.
Indeed, Ervedya's form this season appears no better than that of Persuasive (109) and, if obliged to nominate an each-way alternative to Alice Springs, John Gosden's charge would be my choice
Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes entries
(ranked in order of ratings achieved by 27/09/16)
|Rank||Name (age)||Trainer (country)||Rating|
|1=)||Alice Springs (3)||A O'Brien (Ireland)||114/td>|
|1=)||Ervedya (4)||J-C Rouget (France)||114/td>|
|3)||Persuasive (3)||J Gosden (GB)||109/td>|
|4=)||Arabian Queen (4)||D Elsworth (GB)||108/td>|
|4=)||Smart Call (5)||A Laird (South Africa)||108/td>|
|4=)||Volta (3)||F-H Graffard (France)||108/td>|
|7)||Always Smile (4)||S bin Suroor (GB)||107/td>|
|8=)||Irish Rookie (4)||M Meade (GB)||103/td>|
|8=)||Siyoushake (4)||F Head (Ireland)||103/td>|
|10)||Epsom Icon (3)||M Channon (GB)||100 /td>|