Before jumping onto his plane to Paris, Will filed this Sunday at Chantilly preview to add his Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe preview.
Total Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches (Group 1) (1.10) – This could be a right bash up between Polydream and Happily, the two form horses here, and the race can stay on home turf. Polydream was very well liked even before her debut, when she was a tidy winner of the Prix de Lisieux when landing odds of 4/5 with the minimum of fuss. It was what she managed to do in the Prix du Calvados, however, when she spotted a good amount of ground to Laurens before giving her a comfortable beating at Deauville, impressing with both the way she travelled, and also kicked away for a very comfortable win there. Her class became clearer when the runner up that day, Laurens, took the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster.
She faces a very tough rival in the shape of Magical, who took the bull by the horns when upsetting her better fancied stablemates in the Debutante Stakes from the front, and then proved it was no fluke in defeat when going down by a neck to Happily in very testing conditions in the Moyglare Stakes. The ground here ought to ride better than it did there, and she will prove to be an obdurate rival for Polydream.
Had they both run, it would not have been easy to split Prix d’Aumale 1-2 Soustracion and Efaadh, who reversed positions from their debut meeting in the Prix des Marettes. It was clear that Efaadh was the more race ready of the two first time out, so the improvement from Soustracion was notable from her first start to her second and she’s taking on the favourite here from the same ownership. Wild Illusion was a creditable third there, but will have to improve to reverse the placings.
Mission Impassable found 7 furlongs too short at Deauville in July but when given less to do, she was a taking winner at Caron in the Criterium de l’Ouest; This will be a much stiffer test. Narella took the 144th Steinhoff Zukunftsrennen in taking style and is now under new ownership; This ground will be a different test for her but there’s no denying that she’s got plenty of potential.
Zonza could be overlooked. She came into the Prix Morny with an unbeaten record, including a win in the Prix du Bois. She was fourth in the Morny when clearly crying out for more distance there and looked as if she would get at least 7 in a race that has been working out well since the summer.
Advice: 2 pts win Polydream (6/4 general)
Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) (Group 1) (2yo Colts & Fillies) (1.45): The foreign raiders dominate the market here but the home defence can be led by Olmedo who might well have been underestimated. Jean-Claude Rouget’s colt was beaten by Stage Magic in the Prix des Chenes when hotly fancied to build on the impression of his wonderful debut when he flew down the outside to take his field apart on debut.
He was expected to make it 2-2, but found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time over course and distance, with James Doyle riding an extremely canny race from the front that proved to be the difference between victory and defeat there. Olemdo was in front just after the line, and had he taken closer order it is highly likely that he would have made it 2-2. There should still be plenty more to come from him.
Masar is understandably the favourite after his impressive in in the Solario Stakes, and he heads a strong Godolphin challenge. The biggest worry for Charlie Appleby’s colt will be the ground, and he is facing rivals who mostly have soft ground form, but if he handles it as well as he has done a quicker surface then he will take a good deal of beating with the form of his Chesham third and Solario Stakes win looking rock solid.
Stablemate Mythical Magic was impressive on his debut at Ascot and then when managing to land the Prix Francois Boutin, beating the previous impressive maiden winner Cascadian in the process, and he was then third in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, as one of three horses to draw clear from the rest of the field. Francisco Bere managed to get the better of Stage Magic in a protected duel to take the Criterium du Fonds Europeen de l’Elevage, and on that form he has to be respected here.
Happily is a fascinating runner here for Aidan O’Brien. A deeply impressive winner of the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown, she appeared not to be in love with soft ground when stablemate Magical (runs in Boussac) got the better of her in the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh. However, when the conditions were more testing, she managed to battle back to win a strong renewal of the Moyglare Stud Stakes, getting back up on the line.
Prix Pharamond winner Woodmax would be well suited by an absolute deluge but he needs to improve to be involved here.
Advice: 1 pt win Olmedo (11/2 general)
Prix de l’Opera Longines (Group 1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (Turf) (3yo+)(3.50): Very open indeed and Shamreen perhaps has the least question marks over her, following her deeply impressive win in the Blandford Stakes, and she should be up to making a very bold bid to cap off what has been a fine Autumn for Dermot Weld. The Weld yard had a miserable spring and early summer, but they have bounced back to form with a vengeance since and before taking the Blandford, Shamreen gave a good beating to colts in the Royal Whip the time before.
The form of the Blandford has worked out well, with Beautiful Morning winning impressively at Listed level soon after, whilst Rain Goddess and Sea Of Grace were behind and well held in third and fourth. This ground really suits her and there appears to be no reason that she can’t go well.
Hydrangea got her very deserved Group 1 day in the sun when she edged Stablemate Winter in the Matron Stakes, when Whueida was fourth and Rhododendron seventh on what was a much-needed comeback.
That form sets a very high standard here and it’s understandable that Hydrangea is favourite here with Ryan Moore being on board taken as an endorsement by the market. The likely ground will not be a major issue for her – she has managed to get her toe in plenty – but it is interesting to note that she did not entirely comfortable when she once ran over 10 furlongs, when a laboured fourth in the Nassau. That said, this race ought to be run at a more even gallop.
Whueida was well beaten by Lacazar in the German Oaks (when Ashiana was fifth), although there’s reasons to believe that she can reverse the form this time around – or at least close the gap – here. Last year’s Marcel Boussac winner hit the front very early that day, having always tracked the pace over 1m3f and fell in a whole coming into the final furlong when the winner – who had a big chance here – took the race by the throat.
It’s interesting to note that she was the only one of the first six home that day to be close to the pace, and this drop-in trip, perhaps with a more conservative ride, could see her go very well. She was a creditable fourth in the Matron and looks a serious each/way player.
Lacazar also needs serious respect, having swept through to win the German Oaks late. She relished a good gallop there but handled the ground beautifully and ought to enjoy herself if this is well run, with a number of front runners or prominently ridden horses set to line up.
Rhododendron didn’t cut much ice in the Matron when seventh, but that was her first run back since the Prix Diane, when she burst a blood vessel having been supported into favourite that day. Expecting a lot of improvement would not be unreasonable and she holds the best form in the race by a good distance if you take her Guineas run (second to Winter) or her Oaks run (second to Enable). If she truly is back to her best, or something like it, then she would take a power of beating although there’s a certain amount to be taken on trust.
Senga was impressive when she took the Diane here earlier in the season, although she relished the chance to race on a truly fast surface there and she won’t get such condtions this time around. She did race eye catchingly in her trial for this – the Prix Nonette – but this ground might well be slower and others make more appeal. Onthemoonagain was ahead of her in the Nonette although this ground would again be softer and it’s an unknown. Queen’s Trust does have soft ground form in the book, but it goes to Royal Ascot last year and she hasn’t quite been at her best this season. She might find the Breeders’ Cup suits her more, having won there last year. Lady Frankel has been beaten fair and square by the others domestically this season and has to improve.
Left Hand was third in the Vermeille over 12 when The Black Princess disappointed and both might have to improve – whilst possibly being better over 12 furlongs to boot – Melsina and Silver Step look outclassed.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Shamreen (7/1 general)
Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (Group 1) (2yo+) (Turf) (2yo+) (4.35): There are three of major interest and they dominate the market. Marsha, winner of this last year, produced a career best effort to catch Lady Aurelia on the line in the Nunthorpe at York and she ought to go close once again in a bid to retain her title, but she is also now short at 2/1 and faced two top quality rivals who haven’t had everything go their way.
Battash lost his race before the start at York, and in the circumstances, actually did well to finish fourth. It’s too early to forget the impression that he left when he trashed Profitable and Marsha in the King George at Goodwood on soft ground, nor the way he took apart the field in the Coral Charge. If he is calmer this time around, it’s no certainly that he couldn’t match Marsha for every stride and this course ought to suit him.
Signs of Blessing’s summer hasn’t been as good as his sensational win in the Prix de Saint-Georges suggested it could be, but he was dehydrated at Ascot and then went too fast for his own good in the Maurice de Gheest, when he fell into a whole over the extended sprint trip. It might not be a considered that the first three were from midfield or further back that day and he turned up for this in fine style in the Prix de Meautry Barrierre. When he won the Saint-Geroges, he gave 11lbs to Profitable and a comfortable two length beating, form that would have given him the beating of both Marsha and Battash, and he may be the value bet at 9/2. The rest of the field don’t make a huge amount of appeal.
Advice: 1 pt win Signs of Blessing (9/2 general)
Qatar Prix de la Foret (Group 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+) (5.15): Well contested to end two days of great racing. It’s not easy to make the choice between the four at the head of the market – who look to have the best form by a good distance. Brando beat Aclaim in the Maurice de Gheest before then disappointing in the Sprint Cup, whilst Aclaim took the park Stakes having come with a withering late run.
Al Shaqab racing have two horses to lead the home defence, with Zelzal coming here after having nothing go right during the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, and last year’s second Karkar also comes here, having taken the Prix du Pin last time.
Not much is going to separate the quartet and Zelzal makes marginally more appeal than the rest, assuming that he is not given too much to do, a danger over such a trip. He has been given too much ground to make up in every start of his since he took the Prix Jean Prat but he’s run very well each time and didn’t get a gap in atrocious conditions at Goodwood in the Sussex.
Advice: 1 pt win Zelzal (7/2 general)
You can find out more information on the official Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe 2017 website.
Broadcast Information: The Arc will be on ITV1 HD from 1pm, taking in the Boussac, Lagardere, Arabian World Cup and Arc. For the other Group 1 races you’ll have to watch Racing UK or At The Races; The timings are below:
Time (BST), then Race
1.10 Total Prix Marcel Boussac
1.45 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (sponsored by Al Hazm)
2.20 Qatar Arabian World Cup
3.05 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
3.50 Prix de l’Opera Longines
4.35 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines
5.15 Qatar Prix de la Foret