Horses To Follow » Beheshtam


Runner-up Beheshtam was the horse to take out of the Prix Niel for the Arc de Triomphe for me. Settled back in fourth place behind a strong enough pace in the early stages, Christophe Lemaire was in no rush, appearing happy to track the favourite Cavalryman, who raced in third place throughout. Even when they straightened up for home, and Cavalryman came under pressure, and it looked like the pace-setter Aizavoski might steal it from the front, Lemaire refused to panic, just nudged Beheshtam into the bridle, taking care that he kept Cavalryman in his sights. He did improve as Cavalryman began to respond to pressure, but Lemaire still wasn’t overly hard on him. Just one crack of the whip and a hands and heels drive took him to within a half a length of the winner Cavalryman at the line, but you got the impression that Lemaire wasn’t too worried.

It is probable that this was just a stepping stone to the Arc for the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained colt. Always highly regarded and fourth in the Prix du Jockey Club, his previous run when he finished sixth behind Cavalryman in the Grand Prix de Paris was hugely disappointing, and the main objective on Sunday seemed to be just to get him back on track without necessarily putting the gun to his head. If that was the objective, then it was fully realised, and you can be sure that Royer-Dupre will set about tightening all the screws in the next three weeks.

The relevance of the Prix Niel to the Arc de Triomphe cannot be over-emphasised, producing, as it has, six of the last 10 winners of the autumn showpiece. Beheshtam remains an exciting individual and it is reasonable to expect a vastly improved performance in the Arc, if he takes his chance in it, which is not a certainty at present according to his trainer. The other element in his favour is that he is at home on soft ground. It is difficult to see anything beating Sea The Stars on good or fast ground in the Arc, but if it does come up on the easy side, John Oxx’s colt may not run in the race, and the chances of the soft ground horses will be increased significantly. There is every chance that Beheshtam will be able to find the half a length by which Cavalryman beat him on Sunday, and odds of 25/1 about him for the Arc would be generous if you knew that he was a definite intended runner.

13th September 2009