THE centrepiece this week of a good racing weekend is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, sometimes dubbed the “greatest race in the world”, with which you can agree or not, but certainly the third richest race on the planet, preceded only by the Melbourne Cup, and the Japan Cup, in that order.
The “Arc” was first run in 1920, on the first Sunday in October, and so it has remained to the present day. The record of the Irish connection in the race is a rather tenuous one, with the “maestro” Vincent O’Brien having stunning back to back wins in 1977-78 with Alleged, which was ridden on both occasions by Lester Piggott.
Other Irish successes were achieved by Seamus McGrath, with Levmoss, in 1969, John Oxx, with Sinndar in 2000, and Sea The Stars in 2009, and the great Aidan O’Brien with Dylan Thomas in 2007.
The Irish prospects for this years race are of a very high standard, led by the Aidan O’Brien trained star, Camelot, whose record this season reads like a who’s who of racing.
His only defeat was in the Doncaster St Leger, a race in which nothing seemed to go right for the Ballydoyle champion, who seemed an unlucky loser on the day.
If he had won that race, you can be certain that Camelot would have been a very short price to win the “Arc” on Sunday.
As it is, he is hovering between 5-1 and 6-1 in the current betting market, and looks a steal on all of his early form.
To me, in this race, he looks the bet of the season, although there is one problem that has to be clarified.
To explain, the three-year-olds in the “Arc” carry 8-11, but news from the stable informs us that young Joe O’Brien just cannot get down to this weight, so an alternative rider must be found.
Who this will be is up for grabs, but what a chance mount this would be for the lucky jockey chosen, and what a marvellous pay-day to stumble upon.
The withdrawal of Nathaniel could make jockey Willie Buick available to Aidan O’Brien, but the Ballydoyle contingent will have all of this covered, and do generally consider all contingencies before finally making up their minds.
So, its Camelot to win the “Arc”, from a trio of rivals that include the present favourite Orfevre, the ultra consistent Shareta, and St Nicholas Abbey.
Our Saturday jaunt this week takes us to Ascot, where there is a good card on offer.
In the Lodge Stakes, the Maktoum entry Hawaafez looks spot on, but will have to watch out for Modun in the closing stages.
The Rous Stakes is competitive, but Cheviot can make his overall pace tell, and win from Free Zone.
The October Stakes gives a chance to Sentaril to get back on the winning trail, but expect Punita to run him close, while in the Sales Stakes, Muskat Link can round off a good day by getting home from Storm Moon.
Well, that’s yer lot for this week. Do enjoy the extended racing coverage.
The Fab Four:
Ascot: 2:30-Hawaafez, 4:10 Cheviot, 4:45 Sentaril, 5:20 Muskat Link