Thursday 17 April 2014

Leading Light joins O'Brien's Arc team

Aidan O'Brien: Targeting Longchamp prize

THE ground at Longchamp ahead of Sunday's Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe turned good to soft yesterday after overnight rain, which shouldn't harm Irish hopes of landing Europe's premier middle-distance race.

Aidan O'Brien has confirmed Doncaster St Leger hero Leading Light will be supplemented and, with the rain sure to put a premium on stamina, this progressive three-year-old won't be found wanting up the straight.

The Montjeu colt has displayed admirable versatility so far this year, winning twice over a mile and a quarter before stepping up to two miles to take the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.

He came back to a mile and three-quarters to claim Classic glory at Doncaster earlier this month and will now pit his wits against the world's top mile-and-a-half performers in France.

Epsom Derby hero Ruler Of The World, which appreciated the underfoot conditions when winning at Chester earlier in the season, Camelot and Kingsbarns are the other potential Ballydoyle representatives.

O'Brien stated: "He (Leading Light) obviously hasn't done a lot (since Doncaster) – it's not that long ago – but everything he's done we're happy with."

Meanwhile, Roger Charlton has issued an upbeat bulletin on Al Kazeem, his five-year-old stable star. "If you asked me at the start of the year whether his ideal ground was good to firm or good to soft, I'd have said good to soft," he said.

"By circumstances it has been more firm than good every time he has run and if you replay the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket (his only start last year) you would say that a mile and half on soft was what he wants.

"It's impossible to tell whether some tough races have left their mark but he appears to be in good shape. He has worked the last two Saturdays and we know it is to the level that he worked before Ascot and Sandown because we fit them with a speedo.

"He appears to have retained his enthusiasm, and having been readily passed at Leopardstown (when he was second to The Fugue in the Irish Champion Stakes) he was battling back at the line. He did not give up."

Another big plus in his favour, Charlton believes, is the right-handed track.

There are 106 horses still left in the race but that will be whittled down to those giving it serious thought, in the region of 25, after today's 10.30am forfeit stage. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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