The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the most prestigious open-age horse race on the flat in Europe and it takes place each year on the opening Sunday of October. Longchamp is the regular home of the two-day meeting, however, the course in Paris is still closed to complete renovation work therefore Chantilly will once again host the card next month.
Here are the best tips for the action, including the big race which was won in 2016 by Found for Irish Champion Trainer Aidan O’Brien. The four-year-old-filly gave O’Brien his second success in the 2400 metre contest.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The betting for the 2017 Arc has been dominated by the John Gosden-trained filly Enable for a large part of the season. The British filly has cleaned up her division this year with success coming in the Oaks at Epsom, the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and then Group One victories against the older horses at Ascot and York.
Great British Racing via Twitter
Enable will be looking to become the 11th three year old in the last 15 years to win the French race. The age group has taken advantage of the weight allowance they receive over the older generation although the last three year old filly to come out on top was Treve in 2013.
The dual-Classic winner produced arguably her best performance of the season in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes where she put over four lengths between herself and a strong field at Ascot when crossing the line. The bookmakers reacted to that success by slashing her odds for the Arc, some of which making her the odds-on favourite.
The challenge to Enable at Chantilly is likely to be headed by Ulysses who has also had a consistent campaign with two Group One wins in the UK. The four year old had no answer for Enable at Ascot though. O’Brien’s leading chance this year looks to be with the former Ascot Gold Cup winner Order Of St George who is the selection on the Oddchecker racing tips page, as they think the four year old as an excellent each-way selection at 16/1. It is difficult seeing any other horse coming in the way of the filly ending her campaign in perfect style in France.
Prix de l’Abbaye
Sprinters take centre take in the Prix de l’Abbaye where the fastest horses in Europe battle it out over 1000 metres. The 2016 champion Marsha returns to the race where he will be bidding to become the first horse to retain their crown since Lochsong in 1994. Only four horses in history have won this race twice therefore British trainer Sir Mark Prescott will be hoping his talented sprinter can join that elite club.
Marsha has been successful on two of his five starts so far this season. He opened his campaign up back in May at Newmarket in the Group Three Palace House Stakes where he finished the race strongly to get up by a neck ahead of Washington DC. The four year old then found his best form again on his latest start in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at the Ebor Festival at York. The margin on that occasion was even shorter as there was only a nose between the winner and the star American sprinter Lady Aurelia following a photo at the Yorkshire track.
Although Marsha has proved to be a top level sprinter at this level, he may have to relinquish his crown this year to Battaash who has emerged as the star of the future in 2017. He was beaten by Marsha at York, however, the three year old can bounce back in France. Charles Hills’ colt has had success on soft ground which is important for Chantilly as many of the French racecourses tend to be on the soft side in October.
Prix de l’Opera
The Prix de l’Opera is a 2000 metre contest open to fillies and mares and is likely to be the race in which the dual-Classic winner Winter is set to target rather than the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The three-year-old-filly first rose to prominence at Newmarket where she won the 1000 Guineas. Winter proved that success was no fluke when she added the Irish equivalent just weeks later on yielding ground at the Curragh.
Guardian Sport via Twitter
Winter looked to have matured as a filly when she lined up in the Group One Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. She picked up late into the race when the question was asked by her jockey Ryan Moore before prevailing by over two lengths ahead of Roly Poly.
Aidan O’Brien’s runner stepped out of the-year-old-division at Glorious Goodwood in the Nassau Stakes where the older horses could not prevent her from scoring in her fourth consecutive contest. She took a keen hold early in the race at the West Sussex-track before being ridden into the lead inside the final 200 metres.
Winter was just below her best on her recent start at Leopardstown where she was beaten by a head by Hydrangea. That defeat most likely made connections rethink about her future with the Prix de l’Opera being her most likely next assignment. The Irish filly should be able to return to the winner’s enclosure at Chantilly in what would be her first victory outside of the UK or Ireland.
Prix de la Foret
One of the leading races on Arc weekend at Chantilly will be the Prix de la Foret which is a 1400m contest that is open to three year olds and above. The winner earns an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile in the United States in November.
Last year’s winner Limato returns in the Foret where the gelding is searching for his first success since he won at Chantilly in 2016. The versatile runner has dropped down in trip for some of the leading sprint races in the UK, while he has been as far as 1600 metres twice in his career.
Henry Candy’s runner tracked the leaders in the Foret last year and under the hands of Harry Bentley, drew clear inside the last 200m of the contest. This trip is probably his best distance therefore he is the horse they all have to beat again.
The ground will play a big factor in the race for a lot of runners next month, however, Limato has proven himself on all conditions. When he won at Chantilly in 2016 the ground was Good. Earlier this season though, he ran a brilliant race on Good to Firm going in the July Cup at Newmarket where he chased home Harry Angel in second place.
Zelzal leads the challenge from the French horses in the Foret. The four year old, who is owned by Al Shaqab Racing, is a regular at Chantilly as he has raced there on six occasions during his career so far. The Sea The Stars colt looks to have a lot of talent, however, he has been beaten on his last three starts and was withdrawn from his latest contest because the ground came up too soft. Limato’s experience should play in his favour therefore it is going to take a good horse to beat him in the Foret.
Selections On Arc Day
Enable to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Battaash to win the Prix de l’Abbaye
Winter to win the Prix de l’Opera
Limato to win the Prix de la Foret