Friday, September 29, 2017

Arc de Triomphe 2017 - Enable a cut above

Sunday's Arc de Triomphe looks vintage with some proven top-class performers challenging to win Flat racing's most prestigious prize. Towering over the field will be Enable, Europe's new racing queen and carrying the same colours as the likes of Dancing Brave, Frankel and Arrogate. Of the 18-runner field, I will retain 5 names: Cloth of Stars, Brametot, Dschingis Secret, Winter and Enable. That is not to say that some of the others don't have live chances; the likes of Zarak, Ulysses and Order of St George could spring an upset if all conditions turn right for them.

Enable is the best middle-distance filly of the Classic generation by far. She has crushed all on her way from 10 to 12 furlongs. She even trounced males in the King George. She is proven on easy and hard surfaces and only an accident in running would be able to stop her winning, in my opinion. She has drawn stall 2 and as long as her rider Dettori does not get her boxed in, she should be very hard to beat.

Brametot is the dark horse of the race. This son of Rajsaman has an electric turn of foot that has put some top-quality milers to submission. There are 2 issues with him. First, he can lose the race at the start as he is prone to lose several lengths leaving the stalls. In a 12-furlong race, that might not matter as much as a mile race. Second, he is unproven at the distance and his pedigree suggests that he will be stretched stamina-wise. If both issues are no impediment whatsover on race day, this top-proven miler could let his class speak and be a contender at the finish.

Not much was expected of Dschingis Secret, Germany's best middle-distance performer, when he met Satono Diamond in an Arc trial, the Prix Foy. The way he easily bested the field on that day puts him under consideration. After all, he also beat Godolphin's Group 1 winner Hawkbill in Germany in his previous race. The ease in the ground will be Dschingis Secret's best asset on Sunday. The more the rain, the better the chances for the son of Soldier Hollow. He should be considered in any exotics.

Cloth of Stars surprised a few when second in the same Prix Foy that Dschingis Secret won. It was after all his seasonal return after taking the summer off. The way he finished indicated that more is to come for this son of Sea the Stars. It also showed he had lost none of this ability that saw him win 3 Group races in France in the spring. Trained by the master Andre Fabre, he should be in great condition to pounce race day and is a good contender to make the frame.

Finally, I have got to mention Winter, the best filly miler of the Classic generation. Like Brametot, the big question mark is the distance. After conquering all at the mile distance, she tasted defeat at her first foray at 10 furlongs. Ballydoyle came up with many reasons for the defeat and even if she had won on that day, there would still rightly have been doubts about her stamina for a race like the Arc. Although she is by Galileo, her damsire is Choisir, a pure sprinter. She is the chosen one by Ryan Moore from the Ballydoyle brigade and her class will bring her through but whether that is enough to be a major factor in the end remains to be seen. I don't think she can trouble Enable at this distance.

Win: Enable
Place: Cloth of Stars
Top 4 (if heavy ground): Dschingis Secret

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