Shareta set to land famous coup in Arc
Ever since his participation and Frankie Dettori's booking were confirmed, Camelot has been heavily punted into favouritism for tomorrow's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Given the way this season unfolded, it is incredibly hard to see how such a position -- with all bar Orfevre available at up to 9/1 or bigger -- is justified.
Granted, the defections of last year's heroine Danedream, Snow Fairy and Nathaniel render the Longchamp Group One a mite less definitive than usual, but it is still a hell of a race.
While the likes of Saonois, Masterstroke, Bayrir and Kesampour all represent unknown quantities of sorts in terms of the French three-year-olds on duty in the 18-runner showpiece, the form of the British and Irish Classic crop is largely redundant.
Prior to his St Leger defeat, Camelot looked head and shoulders above the rest, but he failed dismally to grasp a glorious opportunity at Doncaster.
Maybe he was just not himself on the day, and Aidan O'Brien would hardly risk damaging his reputation further, if he didn't seriously believe that the horse could do himself justice tomorrow.
Still, for all that you would respect the unlikely trainer and jockey combination, Camelot makes no appeal at such skimpy odds.
If a three-year-old from this part of the world has the potential to deliver, it may be Great Heavens, the unexposed Irish Oaks winner that was supplemented by John Gosden following Nathaniel's withdrawal.
At up to 11/1, she at least represents decent value for a place, but you couldn't recommend her on the validity of her form.
However, Shareta, last year's runner-up, may be the most likely winner of the prestigious race.
Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, who landed his second Arc with Zarkava in 2008, the daughter of John Oxx's 2000 victor Sinndar has been a late-maturing sort, her performance here 12 months ago the first indication of her true potential.
Shareta again took time to find her feet this term, but dug deep to secure a debut triumph at the top-level in the Yorkshire Oaks, before routing the field to score a facile success over this course and distance in the Prix Vermeille last time.
If she can build on that again under Christophe Lemaire, she could be poised for a famous coup.
Eddie Lynam's Sole Power might also be worth a speculative venture in the Abbaye. A fast-finishing third last year, Johnny Murtagh's mount could do with a couple of dry days, but he looked in fairly rude health when prevailing at Doncaster recently.
Outsider to note
My Special J's will trade at fancy odds for the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp tomorrow, but would have serious each-way claims if the ground rides slow.
While Magical Dream represents Ballydoyle, there is little between her and Pat Shanahan's filly. When the pair clashed in the Moyglare, My Special J's took her first backward step, but she is better than that and won't be disgraced if the rain comes.
Longchamp 12.55 Sole Power
Longchamp 1.30 My Special J's
Longchamp 3.25 Shareta
Tipperary 3.40 Rebel Fitz
775,000 what Dawn Approach's yearling full-sister sold for at Goffs on Wednesday.
17 number of day's whip ban that former Ballydoyle rider Sean Levey has incurred for totting-up, thus seriously compromising his bid to become champion apprentice in Britain.
6 the farcically small number of fences that Baily Green had to cross at Roscommon on Monday due to parts of the track being deemed unfit for racing.
1Time that the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Power ran since his Classic triumph prior to being retired to stud at Coolmore yesterday.
Quote of the week
"I'm really looking forward to it. He's going to have about 60 horses in training, but that's only the start -- he's going to get bigger year by year. He's probably one of the biggest forces coming through in Irish racing."
-- Tadhg O'Shea on announcing his decision to quit his job as Hamdan Al Maktoum's second jockey to ride for the Scot Jimmy Long's emerging Pat Shanahan-managed operation in Kilkenny next year.
Three things we
learned this week
1 Frankie Dettori's storied association with Sheikh Mohammed is on its last legs.
As if having to share the Godolphin spoils with Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Souza didn't already suggest as much, the Italian's decision to cross the Rubicon by taking the mount on Camelot in tomorrow's Arc indicates an irretrievable breakdown in the pair's relationship.
After winning the 2005 St Leger on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Scorpion, Dettori subsequently admitted that such a high-profile victory for the "opposition" had left "a sour taste," and he played no small part in an acrimonious spat between the two superpowers in Ascot's QE II in 2006.
Lest we forget, Sheikh Mohammed has still not purchased a single horse by a Coolmore sire since 2005 due to the frosty relations, so it would be naive to think that Dettori's reassertion of his autonomy will not be without consequence.
What happens next will be fascinating.
2 Ado McGuinness is entitled to feel hard done by for losing Viztoria. Having produced the filly to sluice up on her debut at Naas in July, the Lusk handler looked to have unearthed a rare talent.
However, the juvenile was subsequently sent to Eddie Lynam, and confirmed her potential in style at the Curragh on Sunday. It's a dog-eat-dog game, but you wonder what exactly was originally expected of McGuinness.
3 The Turf Club's appeals panel displayed a desired level of consistency by not reinstating Duntle over Chachamaidee in the Matron Stakes on appeal.
Race-day stewards struggle badly with the concept of uniform implementation of the rules, but the redress committee held firm in the analogous case of Rogue Angel and Balnaslow earlier in the year and that precedent was properly followed in Thursday's decision.
Monday: Tipperary, Pontefract, Windsor, Wolverhampton (AW)
Tuesday: Tipperary, Brighton, Catterick, Leicester, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Wednesday: Navan, Kempton* (AW), Ludlow, Nottingham, Towcester
Thursday: Tramore, Ayr, Exeter, Kempton* (AW), Worcester
Friday: Dundalk* (AW), Bath, Carlisle, Newton Abbot, Wolverhampton* (AW), York
Saturday: Fairyhouse, Chepstow, Hexham, Newmarket, Wolverhampton* (AW), York
Sunday: Curragh, Limerick, Ffos Las, Goodwood