Hayes hopes Power trip can light up Arc day raid
Arc weekend in Longchamp has recently been a source of glorious triumphs for some of Irish racing's less high-profile figures and Chris Hayes is optimistic that he can add to that tradition come Sunday.
In 2012, Gordon Lord Byron's rags-to-riches fairytale reached its zenith when he triumphed in the Prix de la Foret for Tom Hogan. Twelve months later, Maarek's late Prix de l'Abbaye lunge resulted in a famous victory for Barry Lalor and Declan McDonogh.
Both of those stalwarts will contest the same races again on Sunday. Hayes (right) will be aboard Sole Power in the Abbaye, having got his new partnership with Eddie Lynam's venerable speedball off to a sensational start in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend.
Kevin Prendergast's long-standing ally has so far recorded just a pair of Group One successes, both on home soil in 2013. A natural lightweight, Hayes has always been extremely highly regarded by racing insiders as a consummate professional with the talent and temperament to deliver when opportunity presents itself.
His opportunity aboard the most decorated Irish sprinter in recent times has come late in Lynam's eight-year-old's stellar career. However, that taking win at the Curragh on unsuitably slow ground confirmed that there is life in the redoubtable old dog yet.
Prior to that, ever since his most recent Group One success at Dubai in March, Sole Power had been running well at the highest level without quite delivering his trademark late burst of acceleration of old. With ground conditions drying all the while at the Parisian venue, Hayes is looking forward to renewing his association with the five-time Group One hero.
"If the weather stays the way it's forecast, he'd really have to have a chance," he told At The Races of Sole Power, which is as low as 4/1 clear second favourite from a high of 7/1 yesterday morning. I'm looking forward to getting the leg over him on fast ground. It seems to be going the right way ground-wise. I never got to ride him in his younger days, but he's still had plenty of spark for me (at the Curragh). It would be mouthwatering thinking of Sunday if it stays dry."
Sole Power has been beaten in the Abbaye four times, going closest at the first attempt in 2011, when he finished just a head behind Tangerine Trees.
"I've looked at videos of his runs in this race hundreds of times and he has run some good races in defeat on ground that probably didn't suit," Hayes added.
"I've spoken to Johnny Murtagh about the time he rode him, and the closest he finished was with Keagan Latham and he was a shade unlucky on the day. If the ground stays the way it is, we'll go there with a fighting chance."
The superlative Nunthorpe winner Mecca's Angel heads the ante-post betting at top-priced 10/3, with last year's Abbaye winner Move In Time, which is trained in Yorkshire by Co Cork native David O'Meara, an 8/1 shot to retain his crown.
With the ground turning against him, Evanna McCutcheon's Maarek, a gallant head second to Sole Power at the Curragh, can be backed at up to 16/1 to regain the French five-furlong title, with Michael O'Callaghan's three-year-old filly Letters Of Note a 33/1 shot to cause an upset in what promises to be a cracking affair.
Aidan O'Brien will be the busiest Irish trainer at Longchamp over the weekend. His classy fillies Found and Tapestry are among 17 horses left in both the Prix de l'Arc and the Prix de l'Opera, though the respective markets would suggest that Found will contest the feature event, with Tapestry likely to tackle her fellow fillies in the Opera.
Among the other potential raiders is Willie Mullins's versatile Royal Ascot victor Clondaw Warrior, which could line up alongside stablemate Simenon in the Prix Cadran.
Meanwhile, Aidan Coleman has questioned why the people who were arrested following an incident that saw the Inishannon, Co Cork native attacked in the weigh room at Southwell on Tuesday were still on the track at the time.
Course officials had reportedly refused to serve the individuals in question alcohol after 4.0pm, yet they broke into the weighroom after the final race of the day at 5.10.
"The people at fault are the two that got into the jockeys' changing room, and the only comment I would make is to question why they were still on racecourse in the state they were," Coleman said yesterday, as he made his way to the dentist after riding out.
"Southwell have announced that they are beefing up security so from my perspective it's over, though of course the police investigation will continue so I wouldn't have any more to say about it anyway.
"Us jumps jockeys are a tough bunch and a slap from a drunk wouldn't be enough to stop us going back to work the next day."
Coleman, who was back in action at Chepstow yesterday, was left with two chipped teeth and received other injuries.
Two men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage, while a second woman was arrested for obstructing police.