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Arc saved by Frankie

YES, you can picture it ... Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Mikael Barzalona looks set for another big race victory for Godolphin, as Masterstroke goes clear.

Next thing, Frankie swoops late and collars him on the line aboard Camelot. A headline writer's dream.

Cue the flying dismount from Dettori off the Coolmore-owned three-year-old and a fixed stare from Sheikh Mohammed who Frankie turned his back on to team up with his rivals.

The booking of Dettori on Camelot announced on Wednesday came as a surprise to all in racing and may have signalled the beginning of the end for the illustrious connection between His Highness and Dettori which spans over two decades.

It is either set to be the beginning of the end or an olive branch from the Sheikh to Coolmore, a relationship that has had more downs than ups in recent years.

Dettori hasn't ridden for Coolmore since winning the St Leger on Scorpion back in 2005, a decision he made, but later described as a mistake. But with Joseph O'Brien unable to do the weight on Camelot, Coolmore looked far and wide for a suitable replacement.

It is fair to say that Coolmore and Godolphin haven't swapped comic books in relation to their breeding operations since the Scorpion days and only recently did Aidan O'Brien have a runner at the Dubai World Cup meeting.

The retaining of both Barzalona and Silvestre De Sousa was clearly a move that not only left Dettori's nose slightly disjointed, but it also left him sitting in the weighroom or looking on from the rear of the field as Barzalona, his supposed understudy, claimed big race honours such as this month's Doncaster St Leger.

For so many years Dettori has been the face of the 'boys in blue' of racing, but there is no doubt that since the unfounded rumours emerged of his retirement earlier this year, Frankie's relationship with his employer has been strained and this looks to be stretching the elastic band to its absolute limits.

Or was it just a case that Sheikh Mohammed answered the call of Frankie and gave him his blessing for an association that could see Camelot become one of Coolmore's most celebrated recruits to the stallion ranks. Hardly. Aside from all that politics, Frankie will have his 25th ride in as many renewals in one of Europe's finest races and a better spare ride you couldn't pick up.


A small bit of 3/1 remained around for Camelot this morning, but the chances were that by the time of this evening's Angelus all that 3/1 would be well gone.

Come Sunday evening we may be all sitting back and thinking how a 2,000 Guineas winner, Irish and English Derby winner and St Leger runner-up was allowed to be such a generous price for a mediocre renewal of the Arc.

Camelot wore every T-shirt bar the one of a Triple Crown winner as Godolphin's Encke ruined that party in the St Leger, but despite his dominance, the three-year-old's form has been poor this season and that is just letting the layers be a tad braver when it comes to O'Brien's main contender.

Three-year-olds have a fantastic record in the Arc in recent years and that will be put to the test by Camelot, although older horses are preferred by yours truly at least and the pick of them is given to Shareta.

Camelot's inclusion, however, was a massive plus for the race as you take him out of it and it really does look an ordinary affair. The booking of Dettori in a race with a Godolphin runner adds plenty of spice and it will be a tale worth reporting on regardless of the result. If ever there was a space to be watched, this is one.