Japanese great Yutaka Take believes Clincher can outrun his big odds in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.
Fans from the Far East descend on France every October to witness the quest to win Europe’s most prestigious race, but as yet they have always left disappointed.
There have been several famous near-misses – Montjeu was made to work hard by El Condor Pasa in 1999 before their idol, the Take-ridden Deep Impact, finished third in 2006, although he was subsequently disqualified due to a banned substance.
Orfevre then broke hearts in 2012 as he looked sure to win, only to be headed in the final strides by Solemia. He returned 12 months later to finish a distant second to Treve.
Clincher does not arrive in Europe with those sort of credentials and he was last of six in the Prix Foy, but Take, fresh from riding his 4,000th winner, has warned it would be dangerous to underestimate him.
“I didn’t ride Clincher during training. However, I’ve been in touch with his trainer (Hiroshi Miyamoto) even when I was in Japan. I know that the horse is in very good condition and that he has progressed as a result of his last race at ParisLongchamp,” said Take.
“We made the running in the Prix Foy because, in Japan, the horse wasn’t used to finding himself in races devoid of pace and which result in sprint finishes. I never imagined losing the Foy in such a manner.
“However, in a sense, the result of that race doesn’t count for a lot taking into account he is a horse who tends to thrive after a reappearance run. The most important race is the Arc and the horse will be better for the race.
“He’s the type of horse who can lose his way in small races before going on to beat Group One performers in the top races. You never quite know what you’re going to get.
“In the Arc, I would ideally look to have Clincher racing up with the pace. The dispensing of the open stretch is good news as far as we concerned as he likes to race prominently. However, I wouldn’t mind a drop of rain.
“If the race is run at a good gallop, that would be even better as he has stamina. Clincher has never won a Group One contest, but has delivered his best performances when cast in the role of an outsider.
“Therefore, it’s a good thing if we revel in the role of outsiders.”