'Think' leads O'Brien's Arc raid
A strong raiding party looks poised to descend on Longchamp, with all bar one of the seven scheduled Group One races on the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe card featuring exciting Irish-trained prospects.
Following the scratching of five horses yesterday, 14 remain in the showpiece event. Four of those hail from Aidan O'Brien's yard, including the imposing Australian import So You Think, which has been backed to secure a third Irish win in five years after triumphs for Dylan Thomas (2007) and Sea The Stars (2009). While the New Zealand-bred five-year-old is a best-priced 9/2 with Boylesports, he is more generally 4/1 behind the 7/2 favourite Sarafina.
Ahead of today's Arc supplementary stage, St Nicholas Abbey, Treasure Beach and Seville are the other Ballydoyle contenders. O'Brien might also saddle his sensational Moyglare Stakes heroine Maybe in the Prix Marcel Boussac, with David Wachman's Fire Lily and Dermot Weld's Yellow Rosebud among just seven entries for that.
In the Prix de l'Abbaye, Wachman could again pitch Requinto into all-aged company. The speedy Dansili juvenile, a 14/1 shot, bounced back to form at Doncaster recently after disappointing on slow ground in the Nunthorpe. Eddie Lynam's 2010 Nunthorpe victor Sole Power is also engaged in the Abbaye.
Others pencilled in for a French foray are Charles O'Brien's Bewitched in the Prix de la Foret, with Banimpire (Jim Bolger) and Misty For Me (Aidan O'Brien) in the Prix de l'Opera. John Queally also plans to saddle Elyaadi, a runner-up over an extreme distance at Royal Ascot for a second successive year in June, in the Prix du Cadran.
Queally yesterday expressed his hope that Sunday's extended trip would benefit his seven-year-old mare on her first start in a Group One.
"The conditions will be fine for her, but she just finds it hard to get her head in front," he said of Elyaadi, which last won over hurdles at the 2010 Listowel Festival. "Hopefully, the two and a half miles will suit and she might run into a place."
Meanwhile, Bansha handler David Marnane, whose smart Dandy Boy is due to return to action at Tipperary on Sunday, has revealed that Nocturnal Affair, successful in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster earlier in the month, will skip an engagement at Ascot on Saturday in favour of a Listed race at Dundalk in October.