Eagle leads Irish charge to foil Treve's historic Arc bid
Free Eagle will lead the Irish assault on Longchamp when he strives to fulfil one of Dermot Weld's longest-held ambitions by winning Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
The €4m French Group One, the most prestigious all-aged Flat race in Europe and last won by an Irish horse when Sea The Stars stormed home in 2009, has the potential to be momentous. In the 12-furlong contest's 95-year history, seven horses have managed to win it twice.
Treve is one of only two fillies or mares to achieve the feat, and in four days' time Criquette Head-Maarek's sensational five-year-old will reach for equine immortality when she bids for an unprecedented treble.
Golden Horn and New Bay, brilliant respective Derby winners at Epsom and Chantilly, lead a superb three-year-old cast, although Golden Horn's Irish Derby-winning stablemate Jack Hobbs seems likely to miss out.
While John Gosden will tomorrow supplement Golden Horn at a cost of €120,000, he is leaning toward waiting for next month's Champion Stakes at Ascot with Jack Hobbs, having acknowledged that the Epsom runner-up has already been proven Golden Horn's inferior and that the Godolphin colt will be able to go for the Arc in 2016.
Free Eagle and last year's runner-up Flintshire, which, like New Bay, is trained by the seven-time Arc winner Andre Fabre and owned by Khalid Abdullah, are the older horses that pose the most serious threat to Treve. With ground conditions drying in Paris, both were popular in the market, although they can still be backed at 14/1 and bigger.
Weld's stylish Moyglare Stud-owned Prince Of Wales's Stakes victor will be stepping up from 10 furlongs, having had his Irish Champion Stakes chance compromised by Golden Horn's dramatic swerve. Aidan O'Brien's exciting filly Found, chief beneficiary of Golden Horn's wayward lunge, is as low 12/1.
Weld could also be represented by Zannda in Saturday's Prix Royallieu, while Eddie Lynam's indomitable speedball Sole Power will appreciate the drying ground ahead of Sunday's Prix de l'Abbaye. Also bound for the Abbaye is Evanna McCutcheon's mud-loving Maarek, which famously won the five-furlong Group One under Declan McDonogh in 2013. Tom Hogan's 2012 Prix de la Foret hero Gordon Lord Byron could also have another stab at that seven-furlong Group One and Jim Bolger's Pleascach heads the Prix de l'Opera market at odds of 9/2, so the Irish team is shaping up well.
One horse that we won't be seeing any time soon is Tracey Collins's Majestic Queen. The classy Kheleyf mare was acquired by Godolphin for a massive £825,000 after winning her second Group Three at Lingfield in May.
Placed in two of her four starts since then, the five-year-old is now off to the breeding shed following her effort to finish eighth in the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster on September 10.
"We retired her after she came back from Doncaster, so she's got a new career ahead of her now," said Collins of a horse that was bought for €18,000 at Goffs. "Hopefully she'll produce a champion."
Meanwhile, among 10 entries for Saturday's PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park are the Galway Plate hero Shanahan's Turn and Gordon Elliott's dual Grade One-winning novice, Clarcam.