All eyes will be on Enable as she attempts to make history by becoming the first three-time winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 15:05. She looks to hold obvious claims of doing so according to Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings, which put her 2 lb clear of stablemate Stradivarius.
We also know the testing conditions hold no fears for her, with her previous efforts on rain-softened ground including a dominant victory in the 2017 King George and a creditable second to Waldgeist in this race 12 months ago. Enable was kept in training as a six-year-old to avenge that defeat and seems sure to arrive in peak condition after a relatively light campaign.
No six-year-old has ever won the Arc, so Enable will have to break yet more new ground if she is going to add to her wins in this race in 2017 and 2018. Enable was at the very peak of her powers when recording the first of those successes, winning by two and a half lengths and earning a Timeform master rating of 134.
She hasn’t scaled the same heights in recent seasons, though, and it’s fair to say that she has lost her aura of invincibility after another defeat in the Eclipse on her reappearance. Her revised Timeform rating of 129 also means she isn’t as far ahead of her rivals as she would have been in previous years, so she will probably need to run right up to that level to prevail.
Stradivarius showed himself to be the best horse over staying trips for almost 40 years when winning his third successive Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, beating Nayef Road by 10 lengths to earn a Timeform master rating of 130. That elevates him above the likes of Westerner (runner-up in 2005) and Order of St George (third in 2016 and fourth in 2017), both high-class stayers who have been placed in the Arc this century.
Stradivarius will also be well suited by the strong gallop and testing conditions expected to prevail here, placing the emphasis more on stamina.
Like Enable, Stradivarius has the age statistic to overcome as one of only three six-year-olds in the line-up. It also remains to be seen whether he will be fully effective over a mile and a half, with his two recent starts at the trip in the Coronation Cup and the Prix Foy (over this course and distance) both resulting in defeat.
The form he achieved on those two occasions is some way below his best at staying trips, so there is a suspicion that he will again be vulnerable to speedier rivals in Europe’s premier middle-distance race of the season.
Sottsass is a high-class performer on his day, as he showed when third – less than two lengths behind Enable – in this race 12 months ago. He’s won only one of his four starts this season, but this has been his target from the beginning and there was plenty of encouragement to be taken from his latest fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
He was doing his best work at the finish on that occasion, shaping as if ready to step back up to a mile and a half, and it will be no surprise if these conditions provide the catalyst for an improved display.
The main question with Sottsass is whether he is capable of any better than he has showed in his four starts this season. His preparation suggests he could yet have a bigger performance in the locker, but he looks up against it if his Timeform master rating of 127 is as good as he is.
That level of form wouldn’t be good enough to win a typical renewal of the Arc and would still give him a bit to find to reverse the placings from last year with Enable, especially as he must give weight to John Gosden’s dual winner of the race.
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