Wednesday 21 March 2018

Gosden looks to Heavens

Thomas Kelly

TWO formidable rivals have been added to the opposition facing Camelot and Frankie Dettori in Sunday's €4m Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

While Aidan O'Brien's big hope may have avoided a clash with John Gosden's star middle-distance performer, Camelot will have to face Nathaniel's stablemate and sister after Great Heavens was supplemented at a price of €100,000.

And not only will Ballydoyle's dual Derby winner line up against Gosden's progressive Irish Oaks winner at Longchamp, but Dettori's mount will also cross swords with Ryan Moore, who has been given the green light by the medics to ride Sea Moon.

Moore has been sidelined since August when he broke a wrist at Warwick. Remarkably, his only preparation for one of the sport's great tactical puzzles will comprise just two rides, at Newmarket tomorrow.

Moore's status still remained in doubt up to last night when he got medical clearance from the British Horseracing Authority to return to the saddle. Whether connections will be comfortable with him arriving so cold, in such a crucible, is another matter.

Great Heavens (pictured) has herself not been seen since the Irish Oaks in July, but Gosden knows she should relish the conditions.

"It wasn't a straightforward decision, but she's working nicely and is in good order," the trainer explained. "They had significant rain in Paris overnight, so a few things weighed in favour of running and I think the owners have made a very sporting decision to let her take her chance."

As anticipated, connections of Bayrir and French Derby winner Saonois also paid the supplementary fee. William Hill make Great Heavens a 12/1 shot to claim Arc glory, with Japanese star Orfevre and Camelot the joint-favourites at 11/4.

Gordon Lord Byron is another Irish hope chasing the lucre at Longchamp. The progressive four-year-old could have taken up lower-profile engagements at Tipperary the same day or Ascot next week, but Tom Hogan opted to supplement his charge for the Prix de la Foret.

Second in the Group One Sprint Cup over six furlongs at Haydock under Richard Kingscote last month, Gordon Lord Byron had previously posted what, at the time, was a career-best effort to win a seven-furlong Listed race under William Buick at York.

Sunday's Qatar-sponsored Group One -- scheduled to take place just after the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe -- is one of the few top-level seven-furlong races in Europe, prompting Buick to urge Hogan to sanction a fee in the region of €30,000 to allow Gordon Lord Byron take part.

"William Buick rides him," Hogan confirmed of a horse that was bought for just €2,000, but has already earned in the region of €170,000 in prize money for owner Morgan Cahalane.

"He advised me to supplement him for the race and said this horse would be suited to it. (Gordon Lord Byron) is in very good form and we feel it might not be as strong a race as the Ascot Group Three on Saturday week, so why not? The Foret is a Group One."

The O'Brien-trained Starspangledbanner -- second to David Nagle's stable star Maarek at the Curragh last month on his second run back since returning from a failed stint at stud -- is also among the 13 entries for a race that has not been won by an Irish-based horse for 30 years.

An unfortunate outbreak of swamp fever may have denied defending champion Danedream from running in the Arc, but German racing fans will now look to their Derby winner to fly the flag on the international stage.

Pastorius remains on course for a clash with Frankel in the Qipco Champion Stakes on October 20 after a routine victory in Germany on Wednesday. He followed up his Classic victory with a brilliant Group One success in Munich and then finished a close third behind Danedream in the Grosser Preis Von Baden.

He came back to Group Three level and got back on the winning trail at Hoppegarten and trainer Mario Hofer is looking forward to taking on the world's greatest racehorse on Champions Day at Ascot.

"Ascot is the plan at the moment, hopefully all continues to go well," Hofer said. "We know taking on Frankel will be very difficult. Maybe if our horse can finish second, third or fourth, he will have run a good race."

Irish Independent

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