IT’S Flat racing’s headline day on Sunday. We got Graeme Johnstone (@GraemeJ_83) to give us his best bets.
13:00 Longchamp | Channel 4
For what it’s worth Muthmir wins the Abbaye and I’m all over Limato later on but I didn’t have the time to preview them haha so I’ll start with this.
The opening race of the card is the Prix Marcel Boussac for three year old fillies over a mile. As with all races on this card it’s a top class renewal and despite the fact we have two relatively short price favourites you can make a case for many of these.
Having said that the first two in the market look like the ones to focus on, local hope Antonoe, and Ballydoyle from the, well Ballydoyle team! Antonoe, trained by Pascal Bary is unbeaten in two starts with her second win an impressive victory in a Chantilly Group 3. She looks relatively straightforward with both wins coming from the front and she is definitely the best of the home team on all known form.
However as impressive as she has been so far I’m not convinced she has achieved as much as her main rival here and I feel she needs to improve a good few pounds to beat Ballydoyle.
Ballydoyle, named after the yard Aidan O’Brien trains at came to the track under a wave of expectation and at first she was disappointing taking three races to break her maiden, but she quickly made up in to a very smart juvenile. Last time out she was sent off a hot favourite for the Moyglare Stud Stakes where she looked the likely winner a furlong out before being worn down by stablemate Minding close home.
She had previously beaten that rival and the softer ground that day was put up as the reason for this reverse. The form of that race looks solid with the third that day winning the big sales race emphatically yesterday so I’m not too despondent after her loss.
Looking at her pedigree there can be no doubt that Ballydoyle will improve for the step up in trip and the surprisingly quick Longchamp ground will play to her strengths too. She won’t have to make the running tomorrow either and I expect her to sit in the slip stream of Antonoe and this should benefit her too.
Perhaps most importantly Ryan Moore will be replacing Joseph O’Brien on board, and no disrespect to Joseph who is a top jockey but Ryan Moore on any horse is a positive. I make Ballydoyle a strong selection of the opening race.
13:35 Longchamp | Channel 4
The Grand Criterium is next and this is another top class race. Having said that once again I’m drawn to one colt and he comes from a very familiar source.
Johannes Vemeer trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore comes in to this race on the back of a Leopardstown Group 3 win that in my opinion was a hot race. He won it in good style on ground that perhaps wasn’t ideal and looks like a colt on his way to the top.
Second that day was True Solitaire who was an unlucky runner up in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes next time out, while further back in third was Sanus Per Aquam who won the Sommersville Stakes at Newmarket on his next start.
To me he looks a cut above his rivals here and everything is in his favour. He will appreciate the mile trip, the ground is ideal and he is still a fresh horse. The 9/4 on offer in this is a great price in my opinion and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t add to Coolmores trophy cabinet here.
14:10 Longchamp | Channel 4
The Prix De L’Opera for fillies and mares over 10 furlongs and the market is headed by Irish Oaks winner Covert Love. She looks like the one to beat here but I’m prepared to take her on in this.
Covert Love has been one of the stories of the season progressing from maidens, to handicaps, to Listed races to become a Classic winner in the space of three months and it looks like she is still improving. Last time out she was ground down by the enigmatic Pleascach and she comes in to this with a huge chance. Though I would love to see her win this I have a feeling there is one lurking in the field who could be special.
Queens Jewel trained by Freddy Head was a breathtaking winner of the Prix Saint Alary earlier in the season and it looked like she had the fillies division at her mercy. She was subsequently sent off a very hot favourite for the French Oaks where she was bitterly disappointing behind Star of Seville.
I say bitterly disappointing, she was beaten less than five lengths in a messy race, but given her pre race reputation she was disappointing. However if you learn anything in horse racing it’s that every top horse is allowed one poor performance and I’m prepared to take a chance on her here.
She is still a relatively inexperienced filly, she made her debut in March this year and was having only her fourth start in the Classic. She’s not been seen since but her connections are masters at readying a horse for the big day and her absence is not a concern to me. It’s more than possible that she had improved for her break from racing and even if she comes back in the same form of her previous Group 1 victory over course and distance she is the one to beat here. I see the 13/2 on offer here as a massive each way bet.
14:55 Longchamp | Channel 4
A brand new time for the biggest race in Europe, the Arc de Triomphe has become the biggest 12 furlong race in the world. This is one of the best renewals we have had with Treve bidding to become the first horse to win three Arcs, but she will need to be at her very best on ground quicker than ideal up against the English and French Derby winners with numerous other Group 1 winners trained to the minute trying to prevent the French super filly stamping her hoof prints into racing history.
It’s hard to know where to start in a race like this. So many top class animals lining up that I just don’t have the time to preview them all. I’ve watched the Arc religiously for the last 14 years and if there is one thing I have learned is that this is the main target for every top French middle distance horse in training.
It wouldn’t surprise me if we have a couple of big priced runners getting into the places and the two that I feel fit the bill for this are Prince Gibraltar and Erupt.
Prince Gibraltar looked like being the top three year old in France last season but his form rather fell apart after a promising beginning. A Group 1 winning juvenile he was sent off favourite for the French Derby where he was beaten by The Grey Gatsby. He then became incredibly frustrating before running respectably in last year’s Arc.
This season he has been taken along slowly not hitting any great heights before he had a confidence boosting win in Germanys main Group 1. Now this race has produced a recent Arc winner (Danedream) and I feel he comes here fresher and also a better horse. I could see him sneaking into the first four here.
Another big each way price to me is Erupt. The winner of the Grand Prix de Paris earlier in the season (another key Arc trial) he looked like a top class prospect and was fancied to beat New Bay in the Prix Neil.
However on softer ground he was firmly put in his place in that race, but that’s not his true form. Connections have said he was nowhere near 100% that day, and on quicker ground with race fitness on his side I could see him making the 25/1 on offer look insulting come 3pm.
Now I’m not saying either of these two will win the race but I think they represent each way value. But for those of us who want to have a win bet, who is the most likely winner on Sunday?
Well there are only three runners in single figures and there is no getting away from the fact they are the most likely winners. Well two are. As much as I love Golden Horn I can’t see him winning this. He has had the hardest season of the three main rivals where he has taken on all comers on all grounds, but that’s not how you win an Arc and I feel he is slightly over the top.
Arguably he is the best horse in the race, but he is drawn in the car park and this was not his primary target, and I cannot stress how important that is. His two main rivals have been trained for this moment all season, this is almost an afterthought for Golden Horn and I’m not even semi tempted to back him here.
So this leaves us Treve and New Bay. Both come here fresh. Both are well drawn. Both impressed winning their trials. Both are trained by Arc winning trainers. Both have won on this ground. So what separates them? I don’t think Treve will win this Arc in the same style of her previous two romps.
Granted she is the most likely winner, but I think New Bay is going to give her the fright of her life. He has the pace to win over a mile, he stays 12 furlongs, he has an incredible young jockey on board and in an Arc without Treve he would be a great bet.
But there is a Treve in this race. She is a freak. This season she has looked better than ever and she simply cannot be opposed. On any ground she wins this. Treve is not a normal filly. Find a comfortable seat, switch on Channel 4, back Treve, or even better the forecast for her to beat New Bay and watch history be made.
13:00 Longchamp – Ballydoyle to win (7/4 Bet365)
13:35 Longchamp – Johannes Vermeer to win (9/4 Bet365)
14:10 Longchamp – Queens Jewel each way (13/2 Bet365)
14:55 Longchamp – Treve to win (5/4 Bet365)
14:55 Longchamp – Prince Gibraltar each way (80/1 BetVictor)
14:55 Longchamp – Erurpt each way (25/1 Bet365)
It’s a huge weekend of racing with the Arc taking centre stage on Sunday.
Bet 365 promise to be best price on any horse running in a live Channel 4 race on Saturday.