So, you don’t want to punt an even money favourite in an eighteen-runner Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe field? We hear you. You’re probably wrong, but we hear you.
Cliffs of Moher and Highland Reel would have truly enhanced this contest, but it’s not to be. Even still, we’re billing this as a major assault for Aidan O’Brien. He doesn’t pass up many opportunities, but if he’s to win this, he has to overturn what likely is a spectacular filly in Enable.
She breaks out of the 2 stall, and is surrounded by brilliant horses. This truly is the test of all tests for her. If she passes, she is exactly as good as what we all think.
It’s fascinating, but it’s not all about Enable – no matter what anyone tells you. We look at five chief challenges behind her:
It’s not unfair to say there isn’t a horse in Europe that travels into races as smoothly as this son of Galileo. The Eclipse appeared to be the height of his staying ability, until he went on to stay even stronger in the Juddmonte over an extra few hundred yards.
While this four-year-old was beaten convincingly by Enable at Ascot in July, he’s improving all the time – and his York success was the most impressive he’s ever been. A horse who has really come on with age, this year has unlocked all sorts of improvement and there’s no reason to believe that it has to stop here.
We know he stays the mile-and-a-half, but whether he’s seen to best effect on that trip is what’s up in the air. The Galileo-pedigree suggests he’s fine over twelve furlongs in a race of this calibre, and while everyone should be hesitant on what breeding suggests on paper, there should be scope for him to travel all over these if he gets the run into the race he’d like. The most fascinating aspect might be that he breaks out of stall 1 – right next to Enable.
More Galileos. Of course, there are. This one hasn’t gone beyond a mile too often, though. Her only outing over ten furlongs was in an ordinary-looking Nassau Stakes back in August. If we’re honest, that doesn’t jump out at us. What does jump out at us, though – is the jockey.
Ryan Moore could have taken a few rides here. He’s opted for Winter – presumably because she’s the class act of all of them. He’ll need every bit of his brilliance to ease her into this. We’re probably guaranteed a furious pace with some really strong stayers, and if that’s the case, on projected soft ground – he might well have made a mistake.
Order of St George
Here’s the staying element. Last year’s third-placed horse in Order of St George looks the biggest threat from O’Brien. Guaranteed to get this trip despite mid-career slumps in defeat to horses like Sheikhzayedroad and Wicklow Brave, he’ll be prominent in the field and could be the one of the first to take on Enable when she’s climbing the gears. Race experience counts, despite what some think.
The nine-length romp of Torcedor in the Irish Leger means he comes here in good spirits. Despite the race’s reputation, it now looks like little more than a prep run for the main event. It’s not often a Group One race can be classed as such, but there you are.
Drawn mid-way down the gates, he’ll try not to get wedged out in a frantic break from the centre stalls. He’ll be prominent and make Enable work on a surface will demand staying power.
This one’s a bit tricky, but at one stage – Brametot looked like one of the most exciting horses on the planet. Every exploit was over a mile or less to that point, but he’s always looked a stout stayer. The defeat of Waldgeist last year on softer-than-described Chantilly may have been a high point, and he looked primed for a huge 2017. Then, the rub.
Whether you see it as an overreaction or not is up to you, but entered into a bang average race at Deauville in August, it seemed Brametot would wipe the floor with the field – even in his first run of the season. Sent off the 4/5 favourite, he never travelled. He’s not always the easiest out of the gate, but over this extended trip, it shouldn’t worry him as much.
He was lways just doing enough to win his races prior to the flop in Normandy and there’s plenty in reserve. If he gets a toe into the race, he’ll not have an empty tank with four furlongs remaining – that’s for sure. He’s simply not obedient enough to give his all – which might bizarrely work in his favour in a race like this. If it clicks for him, he’s a huge danger.