The British & Irish Arc Raiders

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Are you ready for the race that every flat-racing jockey, trainer and owner dreams of winning? Fortune, Glory and a purse of around €5,000,000 are all up for grabs, in France, this weekend!

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The Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe (Sunday, October 1st, Chantilly) is the highlight of the European flat-racing calendar and arguably the world’s most-prestigious horse race of all. The contest is open to horses aged 3+ and they will do battle over 1m 4f.

British and Irish yards are usually well-represented and the 2017 renewal will be no exception. No less than 8 horses, trained in either Britain or Ireland, could go into the stalls. Let’s take a look at the 3 considered by, most, to have the best chance of winning.

Enable

Age: 3 (Foaled February 12th, 2014)
Sex: Bay Filly
Breeding: Nathaniel (IRE) – Concentric (Sadler’s Wells (USA))
Trainer: J H M Gosden
Owner: Mr K Abdullah

It’s hard to believe that John Gosden’s superstar was trailing-in behind both Shutter Speed and Raheen House, just 5 months ago at Newbury. The Nathaniel-sired filly has since won the Cheshire Oaks, the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Oaks, the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks.

While the Epsom victory caused the greatest upset (odds-on favourite, Rhododendron, was beaten by 5 lengths), the win in the King George at Ascot was the most-impressive. Jack Hobbs was the first big player to come under pressure, at the 2f marker, but within a few more strides they all came tumbling down as Enable began to assert like a true champion. Ulysses, Idaho, Highland Reel and Benbatl were each left looking one-paced and she simply relished the soft conditions at the Berkshire racecourse.

Gosden said afterwards:

Enable is as good a filly as I have ever trained.


Ulysses (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled March 20th, 2013)
Sex: Chestnut Colt
Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Light Shift (USA) (Kingmambo (USA))
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute
Owner: Flaxman Stables Ireland Ltd

3 of the last 5 winners have been 4-year-olds and Sir Michael Stoute can certainly look forward to an epic homecoming if this horse can provide the great man with his 2nd victory in the Arc (Workforce teamed-up successfully with Ryan Moore, in 2010).

Ulysses began the campaign with a win in a competitive renewal of the Gordon Richard Stakes, at Sandown, before suffering defeat to both Highland Reel and Decorated Knight in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Galileo-colt idled under Jim Crowley, after smoothly taking the lead in the Eclipse, but just held on to beat Barney Roy in a breathtaking finale.

Following his defeat at the hands of Enable, in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Stoute sent his charge to York and the mighty Churchill could have few complaints about the 2-length loss in the Juddmonte International Stakes. The trainer also has Del-Mar on his mind (Turf), but the performance at York has made the trainer understandably very ambitious.

Trainer Stoute stated recently:

The Arc is very possible and we’re aiming for that at the moment. The Breeders’ Cup is not until 5 weeks after the Arc, so there’s plenty of time between both races.


Winter (IRE)


Age: 3 (Foaled February 15th, 2014)
Sex: Grey Filly
Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Laddies Poker Two (IRE) (Choisir (AUS))
Trainer: A P O’Brien
Owner: Mrs John Magnier, Mr M Tabor & Mr D Smith

This brilliant Galileo filly didn’t lose her maiden tag until the 3rd attempt, finally scoring at Dundalk in what was her last race for David Wachman who retired in 2016. She just lost out to stablemate Hydrangea, in her first outing for Aidan O’Brien, but then put together a quartet of outstanding victories which took place on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Winter was the surprise winner of the 1000 Guineas, before comfortably taking the Irish 1000 Guineas (with Hydrangea a full 5 lengths behind her, in 3rd place). The Coronation Stakes was won with ease and even though Ryan Moore needed to shake Winter up, in the Nassau Stakes, Blond Me never looked a genuine threat.

She began the Matron Stakes (Leopardstown) as an even-money favourite, but her old adversary Hydrangea broke the hearts of Winter’s many supporters and got-up to land the spoils right at the death. However, while she has won big races in conditions ranging from Good/Firm to Soft, O’Brien is hoping for clement weather.

On Sunday at Naas, the peerless Irish trainer said:

It looks like it is going to be dry over there and if the ground was good there’s a good chance she could be tried at a mile and a half.


The 8 British/Irish horses that connections plan to run, on Sunday, are as follows…

Enable (GB), Ulysses (GB), Winter (Ire), Order Of St George (Ire), Capri (Ire), Highland Reel (Ire), Cliffs Of Moher (Ire) and Idaho (Ire).

However, the French will want to be more than just generous hosts on Sunday and Jean-Claude Rouget’s Brametot looks a serious contender. He’s a notoriously poor starter, but victories in both the French 2,000 Guineas and the Prix du Jockey Club simply cannot be overlooked.

There is significant German interest, as well. Hans-Jürgen Gröschel’s Iquitos is expected to start, but Markus Klug’s Dschingis Secret looks the one most-likely to give Germany her 3rd ever Arc success. Connections of the the Prix Foy winner will be praying for a downpour and the filly could capitalise, should it arrive in time.

Come rain, or shine, an unmissable encounter awaits us on Sunday. Who is your pick, for the 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe?

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