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Lemaire opts to go with Behkabad in Arc

Christophe Lemaire is banking on Behkabad to give him a first Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe success at Longchamp on Sunday.

The French jockey has chosen the Grand Prix de Paris and Prix Niel winner over owner the Aga Khan's other runner, Sarafina.

Gerald Mosse will team up with the Prix de Diane heroine, who was third to Midday in the Prix Vermeille last time.

"Christophe Lemaire has made up his mind and will ride Behkabad, and Gerald Mosse will be riding Sarafina," said Georges Rimaud, racing manager to the Aga Khan.

"I suppose Christophe feels Behkabad has a better chance. I think he feels the horse is right and is going to progress from his last race, even though he won it.

"Sarafina has come on since her last race. She worked this morning without any great sparkle, as she normally does, but the trainer was pleased with her work.

"With a big field let's hope there are no traffic problems. Behkabad needs a clear run though and Sarafina has the acceleration that could get her out of trouble in an easier way.

"It's a tough race."

Rimaud reports conditions at Longchamp to be far from ideal, and is hoping the weather improves.

"Conditions are not looking great. We have been getting some rain and apparently we are to get some more this weekend," he added.

The 26 horses left in the Paris showpiece at the latest forfeit stage include Planteur, twice runner-up to Behkabad, and Michael Stoute's Workforce, whose connections are delaying a final decision on the Derby winner's participation.


Fame And Glory and Cape Blanco head Aidan O'Brien's team of seven, with back-up supplied by Joshua Tree, Bright Horizon, Dixie Music, Midas Touch and Flying Cross.

Cavalryman is Godolphin's sole entry, while John Gosden's Prix Foy winner Duncan and Japanese challenger Nakayama Festa are among other's in line to try for Arc immortality. Youmzain has finished second for the last three years and Mick Channon's grand campaigner is on course for another attempt at lifting Europe's prestigious prize.

The seven-year-old showed his well-being in his final spin before setting off on his annual trip to Paris.

"I'm just relieved to be honest -- he's done plenty of work already and if he's not fit now he never will be," said Channon.

"So much can go wrong at any time but in the build-up to big races all sorts of factors play on your mind.

"He's back in his box safe and sound now and he'll just canter away until Friday when he leaves for Paris.

"I'm as confident as ever that he'll run another massive race," the trainer said.

Lope De Vega, winner of the French 2000 Guineas and Prix du Jockey Club, is likely to be added to the field at tomorrow's supplementary stage.

Since those Classic victories, the colt has suffered defeats in the Prix Jean Prat and Prix du Moulin, both over a mile, but his trainer Andre Fabre is a past master having won the Arc seven times.

Crispin de Moubray, racing manager for owners Gestut Ammerland, said: "I've always said this horse was brilliant, but he's taken a rather unusual route to get here.

"He was a freak of a horse in the Jockey Club, in which he easily beat Planteur -- I don't think anything could have lived with him that day.

"I don't see any reason why the horse shouldn't stay, especially if there's a fast pace which should help him settle early."