Controversy reigns just days before this year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with trainer Francis-Henri Graffard expressing his disgust that Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant will miss the showpiece event.
The 11-time Group One winner travelled to Europe and joined Graffard earlier this year with the Arc in mind and while she disappointed on her French debut in the Prix Jean Romanet, she improved on her next outing to finish third in the Prix Foy.
The French handicapper dropped her rating to 113, however, which meant that she was 22nd in the order of entry for the Arc – which has a maximum field of 20 – with connections then opting not to supplement her yesterday at a cost of €120,000.
That sum would have been refunded had she failed to make the final field, but the issue was further complicated by the fact that declarations for her other weekend option — Saturday’s Group One Prix de Royallieu — also closed yesterday.
French rules state that horses cannot be declared for two races, so connections were forced to go for the contest in which she is guaranteed a starting berth, leaving Graffard “very upset” by the ordeal.
“I’m very, very upset about the French authorities and French handicapper and my racing country in general,” Graffard said. “We try really hard as young trainers to try and promote our sport and try to make it competitive worldwide.
“We try to open our doors all the time and play the game, (but) France Galop try to make it difficult at every single stage. Every step has been difficult for her and for the owners. They have made our life very difficult right until the end. It’s very upsetting and not good for the sport in general.”
Verry Elleegant will hope to gain some sort of compensation on Saturday with Graffard expecting “good days to come out of this bad experience”, while reigning Arc hero Torquator Tasso is primed for a repeat bid the next day at Longchamp.
Frankie Dettori joined forces with Marcel Weiss’ stable star for his final piece of work and the German trainer believes that the five-year-old is in the same kind of form which saw him cause a stunning upset last year.
“Judging by the work he did, he goes into the race in the same form he did last year,” Weiss beamed.