Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 17 December 2017

Favourite and last year’s winner in impressive prix del’Arc deTriomphe line-up

ANTE-post favourite Sarafina and last year's winner Workforce feature among a list of 19 entries for Sunday's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Alain de Royer-Dupre's Sarafina is the market leader to exact her revenge on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained British raider having finished a luckless third in Europe's premier middle-distance prize a year ago.

Workforce needs to bounce back having been beaten in the King George at Ascot on his latest appearance, but he was a big disappointment in the same race in 2010 before going on to claim Longchamp glory.

All of the other major initial entries have stood their ground, with So You Think and St Nicholas Abbey among a team of six entries for Aidan O'Brien.

The master of Ballydoyle broke his duck in the race with Dylan Thomas in 2007 and could also saddle Treasure Beach, Regent Street, Seville and Wonder Of Wonders in this year's renewal.

Also poised to head across the Channel is Ed Dunlop's star filly Snow Fairy while Godolphin's Casamento has already been declared a doubtful starter.

Royer-Dupre has a strong hand with Reliable Man and Shareta also in the mix, while Japanese raiders Hiruno D'Amour and Nakayama Festa are other intriguing contenders.

There is still the chance for horses to be supplemented for the race, but connections of those runners will have to stump up 100,000 euros by Thursday.

John Gosden's King George hero Nathaniel falls into this bracket, but the Clarehaven handler will be keeping a close eye on the weather over the next 48 hours.

Gosden's racing secretary, Peter Shoemark, said: "If he's going to run he'll have to be supplemented on Thursday, but we're monitoring the weather."

Even if Nathaniel does not take his chance, Gosden could still be represented by Arctic Cosmos, who has not been seen since winning last year's St Leger.

Shoemark added: "He's been left in at this stage. We want to have a look at it.

"He's in the Arc and also in the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot on Saturday, so hopefully he runs somewhere this weekend."

The other horse prominent in ante-post lists who would need to be supplemented is Meandre, who could bid to give Andre Fabre a remarkable eighth Arc victory, while German raider Danedream could also be added to the field.


Freddie Head has decided Goldikova will not be joined by her stable companion Moonlight Cloud in Sunday's Prix de la Foret at Longchamp.

Incredible 14-time Group One-winning mare Goldikova will be bidding for back-to-back victories in the seven-furlong prize before heading back to America, where she will go for a fourth victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The three-year-old Moonlight Cloud showed her class with a scintillating performance in the Prix Maurice de Gheest on her latest appearance but while the Foret was mentioned as a possible target, she will instead head to Ascot on October 15 to contest the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes.

"Goldikova is very well and the plan is still for her to run in the Foret on Sunday," said Head.

"I am very happy with her at the moment and the ground looks like it will be on the fast side of good, which will suit her.

"We've decided Moonlight Cloud will not be going and she will instead wait to Ascot and run in the sprint."

Another filly who will be lining up in the Foret this weekend is the Charles O'Brien-trained Irish raider Bewitched.

She bounced back from a no-show in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock with victory in a Curragh Group Three earlier this month.

O'Brien said: "We've discussed it with the owners this morning and we've decided to let her run.

"She never got a run at Haydock, but we were delighted with her last time.

"She goes on any ground so that isn't a concern and we'll see how she gets on in what is going to be a very good race with Goldikova and Dream Ahead in there."


Roger Charlton has revealed leading ante-post fancy Keys is not a certain runner in the Betfred Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Saturday week following a dirty scope.

The four-year-old struck gold in a couple of decent handicaps in the middle of July and has been kept for this valuable prize since.

While Charlton is still hopeful his charge will make the race, he has moved to warn ante-post punters about the setback.

Speaking on his website, the trainer said: "After a routine scope today, Keys was found to have a few streaks of mucus in his lungs having given an occasional cough earlier this week.

"There is still a reasonable chance that he will be able to run in the Cesarewitch in 11 days time, but I suggest that anybody thinking of backing him should wait until nearer the time before doing so."


Bryan Smart is holding fire on whether to run Excelette in the Totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar on Saturday.

The filly also holds an entry in the Cornwallis Stakes at Ascot the same day.

That Group Three contest is over the minimum trip while the North East feature is over six furlongs.

Smart withdrew Excelette from the Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr earlier this month because the ground was too soft, but conditions are likely to be drier at both venues this weekend.

"I've no idea where she goes yet, no decision has been made," said the North Yorkshire trainer.

"We will be looking at the ground. I can't see Redcar being any better than good to firm. It's very dry up here at the moment and I don't think there's any rain forecast.

"And there's Ascot to consider for her. She won't mind good to firm, not a problem."

Smart also has Bop It and Free Zone in the Redcar race but Excelette is the only member of his trio guaranteed a place in the maximum 23-runner line-up.

"It's one of those races when you have to wait and see," he added.


Clive Brittain has decided against letting Saturday's Newmarket winner Alsindi travel to France to contest this weekend's Prix Marcel Boussac.

The juvenile maintained her unbeaten record by showing a fine turn of foot to claim the Oh So Sharp Stakes at Headquarters, after which Brittain suggested she could step up to Group One level at Longchamp.

But although he is happy with how is filly has taken those exertions, he feels it would be wiser to give Alsindi a longer break before her next appearance.

"She has come out of the race well, but she won't be going to France this weekend," Brittain confirmed.

"I'm happy with her but I just think with the travelling and everything it might come a bit soon, so we're going to wait.

"She'll probably run in the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket (October 8) next."


Jockeys will face stiffer penalties for use of the whip in new rules being introduced in two weeks' time following a 10-month review by the British Horseracing Authority.

Riders are being further restricted as to how many times they can use the whip in a race, as well as being handed out stiffer punishments for using it with excessive frequency.

Frequency guidelines have been removed and replaced by strict and easily understood limits on whip use.

The whip can only be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race, and eight times in a jumps race (and only five times in the last furlong/after the last obstacle).

This is roughly half the amount of times a whip could be used previously before being in breach of the rules of racing.

Increased entry-point penalties are being implemented, with a five-day minimum suspension for not adhering to the frequency limits. The previous minimum penalty was a caution.

A jockey who incurs a whip ban of three days or more will forfeit his riding fee and prize-money percentage.

Penalties will increase for those who breach the rules on more than one occasion, and the second offence will be double that of a first offence.

The new guidelines and penalties will come into effect on Monday, October 10.

The BHA announced the changes on Tuesday morning after leading the review, compiled with input from recognised animal welfare bodies, including the RSPCA.

Use of the whip was the subject of much scrutiny when Jason Maguire was found to have struck Ballabriggs 17 times when winning the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree in April. Maguire was suspended five days.

Frankie Dettori was also banned nine days after he hit Rewilding 24 times inside the final two furlongs of the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

An outright ban on using the whip during races had come under discussion during the review.


Iver Bridge Lad is to return from a near-four-month break by bidding for Group One glory in the Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Sunday.

John Ryan gave his four-year-old sprinter a well-deserved holiday after he ran in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot as he had been on the go throughout the winter and spring.

The son of 2005 Abbaye hero Avonbridge is now raring to go for a crack at Europe's top five-furlong dash.

"We gave him a break after the King's Stand. He had a very active winter in Dubai then came back to England and ran in some very strong races," said the Newmarket trainer.

"This has been a long-standing plan. It will be a tough contest, no matter what, and hopefully on a surface that will be slightly easier than the ground has been in England.

"Even good to firm in France would be tend to be on the easier side than it is in England.

"Michael O'Connell will ride him. We're giving the kid a shout in a Group One and he's had faith in the horse all the way through.

"He made a good partnership with the horse in Dubai. He is the only jockey to have won two races on him and he knows him well. I like to stick with a winning team.

"I'd then like to take the horse back to Dubai. He loves it out there, he's made for the place as it suits his way of training and working.

"To do that we had to give him a break - horses are not machines. We turned him out and let him switch him off completely.

"Sprinters need a break."

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