Tuesday 16 January 2018

French star to complete Arc Trev-olution

Hard to make case against dual winner in historic event

Thierry Jarnet drives Treve to her second Arc last year – the pair bid for an unique hat-trick at Longchamp tomorrow
Thierry Jarnet drives Treve to her second Arc last year – the pair bid for an unique hat-trick at Longchamp tomorrow
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Group One wins Aidan O'Brien has had at Keeneland and the number of runners he has there tonight. Easter and Outstanding tackle the First Lady Stakes and War Envoy will bid to give O'Brien his third victory in the Turf Mile.

The mighty Treve will tomorrow strive to cement her place among equine immortals in a Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe that promises to be utterly absorbing.

We have been privy to some exceptional talent over jumps and on the Flat in recent years. Still, in terms of quality, strength in depth and the imponderable of untested potential, there haven't been too many races to match this mouth-watering prospect.

Few contests have generated such overwhelming excitement before the event that didn't turn, say, on an established star such as Frankel or Sea The Stars turning up or the outcome of a straight duel between the likes of Kauto Star and Denman. This is simply a race of seismic proportions.

Treve is striving for a historic third successive triumph in the most prestigious open Flat race in Europe, a feat no horse has managed since the race's inauguration in 1920. Standing in her way is Golden Horn, a genuinely superior Derby winner, and his French equivalent, New Bay.

Second in the French 2,000 Guineas, the Dubawi colt has since produced some superlative performances in the build-up to this and is trained by Andre Fabre, whose incredible seven Arc wins elevate him to an exalted status in the race's revered history.

Dermot Weld's Free Eagle will get the opportunity to atone for a deeply unsatisfactory defeat behind Golden Horn in the Irish Champion Stakes, when his momentum was checked by a thumping broadside from the winner. Found, possibly the cause of that interference when her shadow appeared on the inside rail and caught Golden Horn's eye as she came from behind to be second, is also a contender.

In the final analysis, maybe she and her Ballydoyle stable-mate Tapestry are likely to come up short. Likewise, last year's runner-up Flintshire might not be quite good enough, although he heads for Longchamp in fine fettle, Fabre having sent him out to claim his third Group One in a third different country at Saratoga last time.

Golden Horn, New Bay and Free Eagle are Treve's dangers, and a wide draw in 14 might not be a bad thing for Golden Horn, as Frankie Dettori will more than likely want to settle him in. John Gosden's colt can race keenly and did so at Epsom, so Dettori will again want cover over 12 furlongs.

While you could make a solid case for each of that trio, it isn't easy to make a strong case against Treve fulfilling her destiny by prevailing for a third time. She has simply looked better than ever this year, and that is a frightening prospect for the opposition.

Some have queried whether good ground suits Criquette Head-Maarek's five-year-old, but genuinely good ground has never been an issue before and conditions in Paris won't be fast. Over course and distance in the Vermeille last month, Treve absolutely annihilated the field and Thierry Jarnet never had to take her out of third gear.

This will be an altogether different test, of course. However, this is her favourite time of year, this is her favourite track and this is her favourite race. Granted, it might well be the best Arc she has run in, but that doesn't mean that she won't still be good enough. Willie Mullins' Simenon and Clondaw Warrior tackle the Prix du Cadran, and Clondaw Warrior appeals as representing value at odds of around 9/2.

A staying-on second to Pallasator at Doncaster, he returns to two-and-a-half miles now for a first time since winning the Ascot Stakes in June.

With the peerless Ryan Moore also back up, Clondaw Warrior could well secure an unlikely Group One coup.

Watching Brief...

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore combine for two market-leading juveniles at Newmarket today in Alice Springs and Waterloo Bridge.

Both horses have obvious chances and are priced accordingly. If there is one cross-channel raider that has been underestimated by the layers, it might be Raydara.

Last year’s Debutante Stakes heroine hasn’t had the rub of the green this year. She failed to run her race in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, before getting going too late when second to Cougar Mountain in a Leopardstown Group Three.

Then in the Matron Stakes, she ran creditably behind Legatissimo, keeping on well for fourth. It has been a frustrating season for Mick Halford’s filly, but there has been enough about her last two displays to suggest that she has a big run in her yet.

Today, with Pat Smullen up, she takes on Esoterique and Integral in the Sun Chariot. While they will be hard to beat, there won’t be much between the others, and the suspicion is that Raydara should be a 10/1 shot rather than a 20/1 shot.

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