Who's going to win the Arc? - our racing expert has sifted through the runners to unearth a value 20/1 shot.
Sunday’s Arc at Chantilly looks like it’s Postponed’s to lose.
Roger Varian’s charge has been unstoppable in the last 15 months or so, winning his last six starts and accumulating more than £4 million in prize money – he’d become Europe’s top earner of all-time should he pocket Sunday’s £2.1 million first prize. He looked the bees’ knees when winning over 1m4f at Epsom in June and had no trouble dropping back to 1m2f on his next start, seeing off a decent field in the Juddmonte International. Versatile over the ground and reported to be in top shape at home, there’s little not to like – it’s just that he’s rotten value at just 2/1.
He may well drift a little in the run up and especially if he’s handed a wide draw (we’ll know on Friday), although even that is far from insurmountable. The pari-mutuel could be the place to back him and he might be usurped as favourite on the day by Japanese raider and Prix Neil winner, Makahiki – his legion of patriotic followers will see to that. However, being the best horse in the race doesn’t guarantee success in the Arc – think Treve 12 months ago – and for that reason I’m out.
Japan will surely win one of these sooner rather than later, granted some better luck, and in Makahiki they could have the horse to do it. He has by all accounts been working his socks off since making a successful comeback three weeks ago, although the last Neil winner to follow up was Rail Link in 2006 and all 23 horses to have run in it since have been beaten on the big day. He’s not for me at just 5/1.
Found heads the Ballydoyle team and she looks certain to run her race, as she invariably does. Since lowering the colours of last year’s Arc winner at the Breeders’ Cup, she’s hit the frame on all her seven starts, winning once and finishing runner-up on five occasions, including in a tough renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes last time. Derby winner Harzand could only finish eighth in that contest, though that run is easily forgiven as he picked up a nasty cut. Still, that’s not helped his preparation and he’s passed over at a single-figure price, as is Found given her tendency to find one too good.
What of the home team? Not as strong as it would have been had Almanzor, their best middle-distance colt, not been rerouted to next month’s Champion Stakes. Ascot’s gain is Chantilly’s loss. But the French could still win their race, as they have done 66 times previously, which sees them miles clear of Britain’s 13 and Ireland’s seven victories. Andre Fabre has been responsible for seven Gallic winners and his New Bay is back for another go after just clinging on for third in last year’s race. He’s not been in such good form this season, though, and may have missed the boat.
He’s as short as 10/1 in a place and that is half the price of Prix Vermeille winner LEFT HAND, which looks plain wrong as she has the perfect profile being the only three-year-old filly in the race. Her sex have won eight of the last eight runnings from a far lower representation than their male counterparts, with the Vermeille growing in stature as a trial. Since Zarkava became the first winner of that race to follow up in this since Three Troikas in 1979, both Solemia (2012) and Treve (2013 & 2014) have completed the double, while Sarafina and Shareta made the frame in both races. So why not Left Hand?
Certainly, her half-length defeat of Endless Time in this year’s renewal was a solid effort on the back of a six-week absence and the horse she beat is no mug, being a genuine contender for next month’s Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot. But it’s her half-length second behind La Cressonniere in the French Oaks (run over 1m2f here) that is the killer form line, given that the winner is top class and would have been amongst the favourites for this had injury not intervened. Having crucially proved her stamina last time and with further improvement likely, she looks every inch a value 20/1 shot.
Left Hand each-way @ 20/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)