We are all set for one of the great Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes at Longchamp a week on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Racing, though I remember saying something similar about last year’s and the year before that’s, and so on. In an uncertain world, that the Arc will be keenly anticipated and (hopefully) wonderfully realised remains at short odds.
Three distinct camps have emerged: the Love camp (the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks winner is as short as 6/4 at the time of writing); the Enable camp (9/4 for a historic third Arc victory); and the Neither Of The Above camp (everything else, all of whom are 12/1 or bigger).
Given that neither Love nor Enable ran on the recognised Arc Trials Day at Longchamp on 13 September, it might be imagined that events there will have little bearing on events in over a week’s time. Maybe, maybe not, but a quick overview of what went on will do no harm and may do some good.
The following are the times, sectionals, finishing speeds and my ratings for the principals in the three races over the Arc course and distance of 2400 metres.
The first thing that should be said is that the ground was exceptionally fast and nothing like the official description of “Bon, 3.2” (applied when the ground is anything between “good to soft” and “firm” judged on universal standard times).
Mogul’s Grand Prix de Paris was easily the fastest since the race switched to this distance in 2005 according to Timeform (who dispute some of the historical times), though it should be pointed out that it was run two months later than usual on this occasion.
The Grand Prix De Paris was the only one of the three Trials run at a true pace. The leader splits may make it look as if it was stronger than that, but those finishing speed %s show that not to be the case.
It was rather surprising that more use was not made of Serpentine, as had been the case so successfully in The Derby at Epsom, and it was rather surprising that his stable-companion Mogul finally saw a race out well enough to put up the kind of very smart performance he had hinted at from time to time.
Raabihah took the step forward many were anticipating in thePrix Vermeille, but Tarnawa (whose defeat of Cayenne Pepper at Cork already looked better than at the time) took an even bigger one. The latter’s last-600m is nearly as fast as the principals in the Prix Foy off an even slower pace. Remember that fillies get an allowance if meeting males, so those ratings can be viewed even more favourably.
The Prix Foy really was a farce of a race, nearly a furlong slower to the entrance to the home straight than the Grand Prix de Paris, and some creative figure-making has been necessary.
It is form not to trust, but Stradivarius arguably did perfectly well in the circumstances: you can imagine him running better, though probably not Arc-winning better, in a truer 12f contest.
I am currently undecided where my Arc allegiances will lie, though it will almost certainly not be with Love given her odds and the limitations of the rivals she has been beating. Much may hinge on the likely ground conditions and pace scenario on the day.
Some decidedly promising two-year-olds are engaged this week, at Newmarket and elsewhere, so now is a good time for a quick reprise of a trio of the more interesting juvenile races from a sectional point of view.
La Barrosa looked a colt of huge potential when winning at Ascot on his only start, and we have Total Performance Data sectionals to back up the visual impression.
You seldom see finishing speed %s of 108 and higher at uphill Ascot, and such numbers for the first two elevate fairly ordinary timefigures to sectional ratings that are out of the ordinary.
La Barrosa, an expensive yearling whose reputation preceded him to Ascot, looks the one to beat in a Group 3 at HQ on Thursday, while Derab – a half-brother by Sea The Stars to Enable, no less – is every bit as promising.
You also seldom see finishing speed %s that high at uphill Sandown, and it is a similar tale with the race won there by Maximal, a likely future Group winner or Group-placed performer.
Of more immediate interest is that Toromona and Albert Camus have been declared in the same maiden at Newmarket on Thursday. Toromona shaped just the better in that Sandown race, and was given by no means a hard time late on, but Albert Camus was staying on as well as any and should benefit from an increase in stamina. Set Point is entered at Haydock on Saturday, incidentally.
It is easy to see why, given that he passed most of his rivals in the final 1f to score cosily at the Curragh on his only start, and substantial improvement could be forthcoming.
A word of caution is prompted by those splits, however. He made his rivals look like they were stopping in part because that is exactly what they were doing. He ran close to par, while others struck for home a bit too soon on what was quite testing ground.
Third-placed Flying Visit and fifth-placed Artistic Work remain maidens after another couple of attempts apiece. None of the also-rans has finished closer than fifth since. This may not be quite as good as it appeared initially, promising winner or not.