Things We Learned » Arc trials thoughts

Arc trials thoughts

  • Sarafina won the Prix Foy nicely but, in getting home by a short neck from Hiruno D’Amour, who finished ninth in the Japanese Derby and seventh in the Japanese St Leger last year, she probably achieved nothing more than we knew she was capable of, so the near-halving of her Arc odds probably wasn’t really deserved.
  • The horse to take out of the Prix Foy for me was last-placed Nakayama Festa, having his first run since he ran down the field in the Japan Cup last November. He led until a furlong and a half out, which isn’t his style of racing, and he will be better held up off the pace in the Arc. Remember that he was only beaten a head by Workforce in the race last year when conceding the 8lb weight-for-age allowance, and he is obviously being readied for 2nd October this year. At 33/1, he may be the value among the older horses.
  • In winning the Prix Vermeille, Galikova covered the Arc course in a time that was around two seconds slower that the winners of the Prix Foy and Prix Niel took, but don’t be fooled by that. It rained heavily during the 100 minutes between the end of the Prix Niel and the start of the Prix Vermeille, and the ground had to have been significantly slower for the final trial, but the going allowances don’t seem to take this factor into account.

20-20 vision

These things are easy in hindsight (hence the 20-20 vision bit), but it is difficult to understand how Manieree was a 16/1 shot on Sunday morning to win the Group 2 Blandford Stakes later that day. Even on bare ratings, she was the third highest-rated filly in the race, just 1lb lower than second-highest Eleanora Duse, and she had the potential to be better than that with conditions in her favour.

John Oxx’s filly probably didn’t get the recognition that she was due when she won a Group 3 race at The Curragh in July. That victory was put down largely to a fine ride by Niall McCullough, the general feeling being that the rider stole the race from the front.

McCullagh gave the daughter of Medicean another well-judged front-running ride on Sunday, and she could have been called the winner a long way from home. She probably has her moments, but there is no doubting the fact that she is a highly-talented filly when she has soft ground and her own way in front, and Prix de l’Opera talk is not misplaced.

Weld watch

Fair is fair. Three weeks after four weeks after the Galway Festival (sic.), and the Dermot Weld bandwagon rolls on again. Actually, at five o’clock on the Friday evening three weeks ago, just as the Irish Field presses were rolling on the last update on the trainer’s Galway winners, Catch The Eye was busy following up her maiden win at Galway by doubling up at Killarney.

An hour later, also at Killarney, Galileo’s Choice followed up his Galway maiden hurdle win by easily beating Luska Lad and Blossom Gate in a Qualified Riders’ event. Then, for good measure, he went and won the Group 3 Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champion Stakes day, the same day that the Weld-trained Emulous (not one of the 17 Galway winners) won the Group 1 Matron Stakes. Not only that, but the filly that beat Weld’s Galway handicap winner Anam Allta at Tipperary three weeks later was John Oxx’s filly Alanza, who went and won the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting last week. Statistics, eh?

French misses

Strange the way things pan out. When French Navy won a 10-furlong conditions race at Newmarket five weeks ago on his seasonal debut, his first run for Mahmood Al Zarooni, his St Leger entry suggested that there was a chance that he was going to make up into Godolphin’s main hope for the final Classic. He still had to prove his stamina for the Leger trip, but he shaped as if he would get further than 10 furlongs at Newmarket, and his breeding gave him a chance.

Then, five days after his Newmarket win, Blue Bunting went and won the Yorkshire Oaks and wrestled the Godolphin St Leger armband away. Ironic that, on St Leger day, French Navy was winning a Group 3 race at Goodwood while Blue Bunting was running disappointingly (probably in season) in the Leger. Who knows what might have been had the ball hopped a little differently. Unlike admission tickets, those 33/1 ante post vouchers were not transferable to Goodwood. Prix Dollar next.

Mares’ allowance

There aren’t many sports in which the girls are allowed to compete against the boys, but the increase in National Hunt mares’ allowance from 5lb to 7lb – which, incidentally, brings Ireland into line with the UK – has some sound statistical reasoning. While flat fillies appear to be well looked after with their 3lb allowance (44.9% participation in 2010 versus 45.1% success, almost bang on), the 5lb allowance over obstacles doesn’t appear to be sufficient (26.6% participation versus 19.3% success). It will be interesting to see if the extra 2lb allows mares bridge the gap in 2011/12. How many yards do you think Derval O’Rourke would receive from Andy Turner? (Also National Hunt, obviously.)

© The Irish Field, 17th September 2011