Sunday 8 December 2019

Moore and Workforce bypass Arc traffic jam

Workforce and Ryan Moore (left) manage to hold off the challenge of Japanese raider Nakayama Festa to land yesterday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Photo: Reuters
Workforce and Ryan Moore (left) manage to hold off the challenge of Japanese raider Nakayama Festa to land yesterday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Photo: Reuters

Marcus Armytage

Fame And Glory's plum draw turned out to be of little advantage to the Ballydoyle team in a messy renewal of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe yesterday when Johnny Murtagh's mount was one of the horses caught up in traffic problems behind Workforce and Japanese raider Nakayama Festa.

But after an afternoon of largely British fare, with victories for the Clive Cox-trained Gilt Edged Girl in the Prix de l'Abbaye and Richard Fahey's Wootton Bassett in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Workforce capped it all with a return to his magnificent best in Europe's most valuable race.

The famously redundant facial muscles that make Ryan Moore smile have been getting a punishing workout this summer as first the Oaks, then Derby and now Arc have fallen to his skill and, very evident yesterday, his strength in the saddle.

It is a truism of sport that you make your own luck but even Moore admitted afterwards that when the gaps came, even the narrow ones, he had the most willing of partners.

As he carved through the field from the unpromising starting point off the rail, nearer last than first, in his wake his principal rivals were being stopped in their tracks, their progression halted by backsides and broadsides, their jockeys returning with a litany of hard-luck stories.


Workforce merely breathed in as he slipped through the first gap and asserted his muscular authority as he struck for the front when a more timid creature might have been knocked sideways.

"He got in a very good rhythm today," explained Moore. "I knew there was a lot of scrimmaging but I got a nice run. He quickened by them and switched off a little but he was always a neck in front, he stuck his head out and was always doing enough."

The biggest surprise was that it was the Japanese runner Nakayama Fiesta that made Workforce and Moore fight with every sinew and not three-times runner-up Youmzain, which will encounter less traffic on the Peripherique when he heads home today.

It was certainly not the Aga Khan's or Ballydoyle's lucky day as far as the Arc was concerned, their horses all coming off second best in the rough and tumble of Longchamp's last three furlongs.

The Aga Khan's pair Sarafina, which was almost brought down when badly impeded early in the straight, and Behkabad filled the third and fourth berths with Fame And Glory in fifth, a place ahead of where he ended up a year ago behind compatriot Sea The Stars.

Murtagh's mount was thought to have secured a distinct advantage when drawn beside the inside rail and initially that theory looked spot-on, with the Montjeu colt travelling nicely as Planteur's pacemaker Pouvoir Absolu and Fame And Glory's stablemate Midas Touch brought them along.

But the race began to develop in earnest when Planteur was gifted the inside turning for home with Fame And Glory following him through as the other prime fancies began to line up wider out to launch what proved more judicious bids for stardom. Just as Fame And Glory began to motor, his passage was blocked; Murtagh had to take evasive action and by then, the principals had sorted themselves out with the exception of Sarafina, which then began to eat up the ground on the far outside for Gerald Mosse.

When the notoriously pernickety French stewards finally untangled the succession of chain reactions, they threw out the seventh, Planteur.

It seems a long time ago since Workforce carved through the Derby field in similar fashion back in early June in a race that has subsequently been panned as substandard. For the last three years the Derby winner has finished the season as the best middle distance horse in Europe and, after the hiccup of the King George, it's clear the Epsom race retains its position as the world's pre-eminent Classic.

There is a good chance that Workforce will stay in training next year but for Goldikova -- given a sublime ride by Olivier Peslier to see off Paco Boy in the Prix de la Foret to beat Miesque's record of 10 Group Ones -- there is one final hurrah, the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in a month's time when she bids to become the first three-times Breeders' Cup winner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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