So the Longchamp Arc Trials Day has concluded and shed some light on proceedings, with the Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe just three weeks away.
But the clues themselves may be deceptive – and not just based around today’s winners. Indeed it is five years since a winner on this day has followed-up in the big one – and that was the mighty Zarkava.
So let’s start with the Prix Vermeille. On paper before the race, Treve looked to have solid claims both in the Vermeille and the Arc. Her best performance in the Prix de Diane had looked very strong form given the fillies she beat, with Chicquita significantly winning the Irish Oaks next time out.
Wild Coco hailed from the Warren Place yard and was a filly Sir Henry had long loved. Patience looked to have been paid as she finally got her ground today and the position of Treve heading into the final straight, gave Wild Coco every chance to prevail as she stretched away from the rest of the field.
That Treve was able to make up so much ground so quickly – and on rain softened ground, served notice that this is a filly of immense talent who is also versatile at the highest level on a variety of surfaces and is not afraid to weave through traffic. Those qualities give Treve every chance of making it a three-timer for the fillies and mares in the Arc, following the exploits of Danedream and Solemia.
The Prix Niel looked a strong renewal on the face of it and pretty much confirmed the general consensus that this year’s three year old colts look much of a muchness. That four colts should finish in such a heap puts a big question mark against the validity of the Classic colts’ pretensions to win an Arc this year.
Ruler of the World and the winner Kizuna had both been off the course for quite a while but it would seem significant should Ballydoyle run St Leger winner leading Light in the Arc, as it would suggest they think he has at least as good a chance as the Derby winner. That in turn would seem to discount the colts that fought out such a fabulous finish this afternoon.
This race will have given Andre Fabre some useful answers to his numerous Arc contenders and if today showed us one thing, it was that Flintshire will need a good surface to give of his best in an Arc. Contrast that to Treve.
Intello, who did not run today, is interesting but surely if the ground is soft, Andre Fabre is likely to give Ocovango his chance and he has run admirably consistently this year and could be capable of a placing in an Arc, although it would seem he is an unlikely winner at this stage.
Orfevre, for the second year running was a most impressive winner of the Prix Foy – and off the back of a six month break too. He remains to me something of an enigma however, who at the highest level, may find adversity when under extreme pressure. That nagging worry remains at the back of my mind going into the Arc.
Novellist was unfairly in my mind, criticised for winning his Arc trial – a Group One contest, a couple or so weeks ago. The Grosser Preis Von Baden was a muddling race but not at peak condition, the horse found a way to get the job done and will strip much fitter for Longchamp.
However, Novellist’s profile going into the Arc appears to be a tried and tested one for a horse that narrowly misses out in the big race. Other recent good older horses to win the King George and fail in the Arc include Ela Man Mou, Time Charter, Mtoto, Opera House, Pentire, Daylami, Montjeu, Hurricane Run, Duke of Marmalade and Conduit, whilst Dylan Thomas did succeed.
With Al Kazeem disappointing at Leopardstown and The Fugue less likely to line-up given soft ground, the early market may look very wide of the mark come Arc day.
As for the race itself, it is hard not to make a case for Treve given she handles that course, handles all surfaces, can handle the rough and tumble of a race and not only stays the trip but can quicken with a real kick on all surfaces. Her profile now appears to be very reminiscent of Zarkava’s in 2008.
With the older horses not really setting the world alight this year (Novellist aside) and the three year old colts roundly beating each other and not making a big impact on all-age middle distance races, the door appears to be open for another female triumph, which has become a familiar theme in the past few years.