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Friday, 30 September 2011

Europe goes to war - Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

For many followers of the flat the first Sunday in October brings the highlight of the year with the best middle distance horses from across Europe & often beyond meet to take turf racing's most prestigious prize at Longchamp in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. We've studied the form of the horses competing along with looking at the historical trends of the race to try to give you an insight into which horse can win this great contest.

(Reliable Man is looking for further success for connections)

It would be remiss of us not to point out that 3 year olds have dominated the race with 18 of the last 25 winners coming from the classic generation & it's easy to see why - the 3 year old colts receive 7 pounds from the older males & 5 pounds from the older fillies & mares, the 3 year old fillies get a further 4 pounds. At this timee of year the younger horses have matured considerably & these favourable terms are of huge benefit, of course many of the best horses are retired after their 3 year old careers meaningg that the older horses just aren't of as high a quality as their younger rivals. This year could be different with some very classy types having been kept in training including last year's impressive winner Workforce with the 2nd & 3rd also returning in japan's Nakayama Festa & the lovely filly Sarafina. Joining them is Aidan O'Brien's So You Think, his recruit from Australia has only competed in 10 furlong races since coming to the Northern hemisphere winning 3 Group One's  should be able to cope with these extra 2 furlongs - he came 3rd in last year's Melbourne Cup. So You Think's high draw from stall 14 is a huge worry though as getting in the right position in the race is key, Nakayama Festa & Sarafina are also drawn in the teens & it could be asking just too much to win the race from those draws.

Quick ground appears to be a worry for many of the contenders with Stoute concerned for Workforce & Reliable Man 's connections still unsure whether to run him or not. Reliable Man appears to be the one with impeccable credentials for the race having won a key trial in the Prix Niel beating the more fancied Meandre from Andre Fabre's stable with some authority. The breeding of Reliable Man is outstanding being by the fabulous Arc winner Dalakhani (Daylami's half brother) out of a Sadler's Wells mare, he should get the distance no problem & gets plenty of weight from his elders. There doesn't appear to be a great reason to think Meandre will turn the form around as 'the Man's' breeding suggests he should get better the further into his career he goes & looks all over a classic late season horse.

The other horse that interests us is the filly Galikova who will be looking to step out of her illustrious half sister, Goldikova's shadow. She gets all the allowances as a 3 year old filly and has excellent connections in terms of her trainer Freddie Head & triple Arc winning jockey Olivier Peslier. Galikova is open to all sorts of improvement, looks like she'll appreciate the distance & is following the Zarkava route to Arc glory. She beat some of the rivals she'll face today last time so she does have some form in the book, our chief concern would be whether she's quite tough enough to win here with a big field of top class sorts, it would require another step up but that's possible.

It's now possible to back in the race without fear of losing your stake if your horse is a non-runner & that makes it well worth while to back Reliable Man to storm to the winning line at odds of 12/1. We would suggest each way but if he truly can't handle the going he could end up nowhere but if he does handle it we're pretty confident he's the one to beat. We've backed in the antepost market at 29/1 but will lose our stake if de Royer-Dupre does withdraw him. We think the constant complaining about the ground by many of the trainers & owners is more designed to get Longchamp to water plenty rather than them actually withdrawing their mounts - this is the Arc after all, there is no other race quite like this!

Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe - Reliable Man to win at 12/1 (general)

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