World’s Best Racehorses Set for Classic Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Renewal
The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the richest horse race held in Europe, so it’s only fitting that top Flat thoroughbreds are taking aim at Paris-Longchamp for the autumn highlight in France.
This year’s running of the £4,500,000 Group 1 contest over a mile-and-a-half already has all the makings of an historic Arc.
There are many subplots and questions that will only be answered in the City of Light come Sunday, 6 October, so – in celebration of the Arc and its 99-year history – let’s take a look at the leading contenders for it this year.
Enable favourite for Arc hat-trick on swansong
If you were scripting the race, you’d have dual Arc heroine Enable win it for a third time on her final outing before retirement. That premise is not just based on sentiment and the desire to see horse racing history made either.
John Gosden’s wonder-mare has been as good as ever this season winning the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown over a shorter-than-ideal trip, before regaining the King George at Ascot.
Enable warmed up for her Arc hat-trick bid with a bloodless victory in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor Festival back against her own sex. Longchamp demands plenty more, but nor was she given a hard race on the Knavesmire.
Her first Arc victory back in 2017 was hugely impressive. Had the winning post been another stride further 12 months later, and the ill-fated Sea Of Class would’ve deposed Enable.
At five, she has looked more like her three-year-old self than last season. Bookmakers rightly have Enable favourite here with Betway going evens in their horse racing betting on the Arc as of 3 September.
She’s won ten consecutive Group or Grade 1 races. It sets a clear standard, but the only chink if there is one in the armour of Khalid Abdullah’s horse is she concedes weight-for-age.
Enable has done that plenty of times before and still been a success. Only one five-year-old has won the Arc in the last 30 years, but precious few have been so special.
Course and distance winner Japan the leading three-year-old
If Enable beat Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck comprehensively in the King George at Ascot, then what chance does premier Classic third Japan have? Better than that bare form suggests, because he’s improved markedly since.
Not off a yard in a strange renewal of the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on reappearance, Japan has emerged as the best of the Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-olds this season.
He’s progressed with each run and that not only makes him a danger, but a potential party pooper who could prevent Enable riding off victorious into the sunset.
By far the most impressive of the Ballydoyle-based winner at Royal Ascot with a commanding performance in the King Edward VII Stakes, connections took Japan for an early sighter at Longchamp. While the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris may be restricted to three-year-olds, it’s run over the Arc course and distance.
Japan was value for more than a half-length winning margin at Longchamp and followed up when defeating Crystal Ocean – perhaps one of the unluckiest top-class racehorses ever – by a head in the Juddmonte International at York.
If he comes on for that run again, then Enable has a very serious challenger. Odds of 9/2 with bookmakers for Japan in the Arc reflect that and the race terms give him 3lb weight-for-age from the superstar mare.
Ghaiyyath impressive in German time trial
We’ve covered the established market leader and improving youngster, so that just leaves an emerging Arc contender on time figures. Godolphin’s four-year-old Ghaiyyath routed the admittedly weak opposition in the Grosser Preis von Baden when bolting up by 14 lengths.
That looks to have punched his ticket to Longchamp, but what are we to make of these rapid sectionals? It’s not unprecedented that the winner of this German Group 1 goes on to Arc glory. Remember Danedream in 2011?
While Racing Post Ratings put Ghaiyyath 1lb ahead of Enable, she gets a 3lb sex allowance from older male horses like Charlie Appleby’s charge. It’s not a level-playing field.
The German excursion was Ghaiyyath’s first try over a mile-and-a-half, so he is still unexposed at the Arc trip. He also has a good record at Longchamp with two wins from three starts.
That doesn’t quite match Enable and her two Arc triumphs but, if able to replicate his Baden-Baden romp, Ghaiyyath looks great each-way value at 10/1.