Stage set for So You Think to prove world-beater
An unseasonal spell of hot weather in Paris provides the perfect setting for the ultimate triumph with a horse that epitomises the international flavour of racing at the highest level.
So You Think, a champion in Australia but now trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, is poised to make his mark in tomorrow's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp against one of the strongest fields of modern times.
So You Think, bred in New Zealand, has already taken two of Europe's major prizes -- the Coral-Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes -- but this will be a major test on the big stage and, make no mistake, the tempo of this contest will expose any weakness.
The son of High Chaparral has won four of his five starts -- three of them Group Ones -- since being shipped to the northern hemisphere, but this will be the final examination of the bold decision by Coolmore and their associates to buy into the horse in a reported £40m deal.
So You Think will find this Arc challenge something akin to running in last year's two-mile Melbourne Cup, in which he finished third after wasting valuable energy when refusing to settle for much of the race.
So You Think's experience that day in a big field should ensure he is well equipped to handle himself here. He's a more relaxed horse than he was 12 months ago, but he faces a field crammed full of smart rivals.
Galikova caught the eye when winning the Prix Vermeille three weeks ago and will run on a much faster surface this time, which should suit. St Leger winner Masked Marvel, supplemented for €100,000 on Thursday, could be the best of his generation, having rapidly progressed since Doncaster.
But So You Think's sternest opposition should come from two experienced and in-form fillies: Snow Fairy and Sarafina.
Ed Dunlop has done an excellent job in bringing Snow Fairy back gradually after an injury and her second to So You Think in the Irish Champion Stakes was her best run since a devastating win in last year's Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. She becomes Frankie Dettori's 24th consecutive ride in the Arc and, like So You Think, the filly should be suited by the lively ground.
Sarafina was unlucky when third to Workforce in last year's Arc and her narrow win in the Prix Foy last month was a nice pipe-opener. She'll benefit from an expected strong pace, as too will Meandre, the Grand Prix de Paris winner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
ARC DE TRIOMPHE 1-2-3: So You Think 1; Snow Fairy 2; Masked Marvel 3.