After last year’s deeply unsatisfactory renewal – where heavy, borderline untraceable ground rendered previous form worthless and a freak result occurred – it is something of a relief that the going for the 2013 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe should allow most of the field to be seen to best effect. It is currently soft, and this should mean a good-to-soft surface come race time with no further rain forecast.
ORFEVRE looks a good place to start the analysis of this race. You may have seen the viral video of typically enthusiastic and patriotic Japanese racing fans watching this horse run in last year’s Arc, but I’ll make sure Pete puts a link in case you haven’t.
Without wanting to spoil it too much, delight turned to despair as this hugely talented horse swept down the outside, looking a certain winner, only to be run out of it close home by the unfancied Solemia. As above, that race was run on terrible ground, and ORFEVRE would have won that race on anything like an orthodox racing surface. He’s been geared towards this race since and won his trial with aplomb, beating nothing of note but barely having to come out of first gear. He is clearly very good, but has blemishes on his record and isn’t unbeatable. His trainer knows this, and has suggested the biggest threat to the horse is himself.
He is not the only raider from the Far East, and Japanese Derby winner KIZUNA matched his compatriot when winning his trial, the Prix Niel, on the same card. In my experience, Japanese trainers rarely have their horses fully fit for prep races and a good deal of improvement is likely to be forthcoming. It will be required, however, as he was fortunate to beat RULER OF THE WORLD in the Niel.
RULER OF THE WORLD is the English Derby winner and bounced right back to form last time after an abject run in the Irish Derby. The form of his win at Epsom is desperate, but the suspicion is that he was a fair bit the best there and he showed in the Niel that he has huge talent. A tactical affair that day wouldn’t have been ideal, and there may be more to come in a strongly run affair. He’s well drawn.
FLINTSHIRE was fourth in the Niel but is a likely improver for better going. Whether it will be quite fast enough for him to eek out the necessary improvement is debatable – I don’t think it will be – but look out for him if he turns up at Santa Anita in the Turf.
FLINTSHIRE is one of five runners for the genius that is Andre Fabre. PENGLAI PAVILION and PIRIKA look up against it, while OCOVANGO is held on previous form by several of today’s opponents, but INTELLO is a colt from the top drawer. He won the French Derby and was third in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, before winning his prep race in comfortable style. This will be his first try over the distance and my suspicion is that he may be a shade better over ten furlongs. Strong chance if he can stretch out, though.
AL KAZEEM has the worst of the draw, being in stall 18 of 18. He is unbeaten going right-handed in his career, having won all five times he’s run this way. Some ease in the ground is ideal for him and the return back to 12f should suit this strong galloper. He’s been below par the last twice and has had a lot of hard races this season, but both defeats came going left-handed. If the return to running anti-clockwise means he can rediscover his best form of the summer, he would have a very solid chance. His jockey is intelligent and talented, and will be a great asset in overcoming his tricky post.
TREVE looks an exceptional filly. Unbeaten in four runs, she has won two Group 1 races with ridiculous ease and now takes on the colts. She’s drawn fairly wide, but her hold up style negates concerns over her post position and she has excellent acceleration. Fillies have a good record in recent years having won three of the last five renewals, and she may be able to improve that record.
Of the outsiders, LEADING LIGHT looks as though he may outrun his price. A winner of the St Leger last time over further, he should be well placed from a low stall and keeps improving.
VERDICT: More of a race to watch and savour than bet on. Orfevre is a worthy favourite and commands huge respect, but TREVE has created a huge impression this season and may be capable of becoming the third successive winner of this race.