Our resident tipster has weighed up the pros and cons of the main protagonists in Sunday's Arc, before delivering his verdict.
The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has the makings of an epic horserace with some truly outstanding horses set to clash at Longchamp on Sunday afternoon (due off 2.55pm).
Treve needs little introduction as she goes in search of a third consecutive Arc – she’s the first horse ever to attempt that feat – and she is deservedly a short-priced favourite to complete the historic feat.
We also know a lot about one of her main challengers, the John Gosden-trained Golden Horn, thanks to the way he has been campaigned this season. He has proved himself to be Europe’s standout middle-distance three-year-old with wins in the Derby, Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes last time.
And then there is New Bay, who showed brilliant speed to quicken past the entire French Derby field in a few strides and who sauntered to victory in the trial used by trainer Andre Fabre’s for all five of his three-year-old winners of the Arc.
The supporting cast isn’t bad either with Group 1 winners Free Eagle, who looked desperately unlucky in the aforementioned Irish Champion, Flintshire, who found only Treve too good in last year’s Arc, Erupt and Dolniya quoted at 16/1 or better. But it’s fair to say anything other than a victory for one of the big three will register as a seismic upset and the pros and cons of backing each of that trio are discussed here.
TREVE @ 11/10 Paddy Power
Unbeaten in three runs this year and seemingly better than ever at the age of five.
Produced her most impressive performance last time when romping home over course and distance in the Prix Vermeille – she was only fourth in that race 12 months ago and her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek is sure to have left plenty to work on.
Won her trial on soft and she clearly likes to get her toe in, but last year’s Arc was run on good ground and she toyed with Flintshire on a similar surface in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July.
She looks well drawn in stall eight.
Age is against her with only eight horses aged five or older succeeding since the races inaugural running in 1920, and only two since Star Appeal in 1975. The last five-year-old mare to oblige was Corrida in the 1930s.
She arguably had a harder race in her trial than was ideal. A tenderly-ridden fourth 12 months ago, she looped the field this time around, was still pulling turning into the straight and then ran very fast for a couple of furlongs.
The drying ground is going to suit her main rivals more and New Bay in particular will benefit if it becomes more of a speed test.
GOLDEN HORN @ 5/1 Ladbrokes
He’s the top-rated three-year-old runner and by some way and returned to winning ways last time, having met with an unexpected defeat at York previously, when clearly not at his best.
The Classic generation have by far the best record down the years with only six horses – Sakhee, Marienbard, Dylan Thomas, Solemia and Treve – stemming the flow in the last 21 years.
He will be suited by the return to 1m4f and if dropped out like he was in the Derby, he can deploy his decisive turn of football from behind.
Connections seem bullish about his chances saying: “We really want people to know how good this horse is” and he can beat Treve “easily” on decent ground.
The ground has come right for him and his draw in stall five looks perfect.
Has been in the go since winning the Fielden Stakes at Newmarket on his reappearance in April and this will be his seventh start – a case of going to the well too often?
He’s been handed a wide draw in stall 14 – only two winners this millennium have defied a double-figure draw and eight if the last ten winners were drawn no higher than six.
NEW BAY @ 5/1 William Hill
Proven Group 1 performer who showed brilliant speed to win the French Derby.
Was a ready winner of the Prix Neil over course and distance last time, without being given a hard race – his trainer will not have had him anything like tuned up for that and he should improve a lot.
While no Neil winner has triumphed since Rail Link in 2006, it used to be a cracking trial, throwing up ten of the 13 winners between 1994 and 2006 and all bar one were French-trained, five by Fabre.
The drying ground is in his favour as to will allow him to use his speed and make it less of a stamina test.
He has a good deal to find in the ratings with fellow three-year-old Golden Horn, who is rated 130 to his 119, though there is a chance he is better than his bare form.
I’m in danger of looking very foolish around 3.00pm on Sunday afternoon as Treve makes history by becoming the first triple winner, but I do think there are enough reasons to take her on and it has to be with NEW BAY, who may well be the best three-year-old around. Given the prospect he might be shorter on Sunday’s pari-mutuel, I’m going in now for Hills’ 5/1.