Things We Learned » The draw and the Arc

The draw and the Arc

The general reaction when Ulysses drew stall one and Enable drew stall two for tomorrow’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was that the low draws were positives for the market leaders.  That may not be the case.

A high draw has historically been a significant negative in the Arc at Longchamp, but the effect of the draw at Longchamp obviously has no relevance to any potential draw bias in this year’s Arc, run, as it will be, at Chantilly.  

We only have the evidence of one Chantilly Arc.  In last year’s Arc, the first three home emerged from, respectively, stalls 12, 11 and 16 of 16.  Of course, one is a small sample size in any context.

We do have 12-furlong Prix du Jockey Clubs, however, and it is not unreasonable to use the draw data from those races as a proxy for draw data for a Chantilly Arc.  So the Prix du Jockey Club is a race for three-year-olds, but it is a Group 1 race, usually with a big field, run over a mile and a half at Chantilly.

In the last 10 renewals of the Prix du Jockey Club run over a mile and a half, before the distance was reduced to 10 and a half furlongs, the first four home were drawn as follows:

1995 (good): 10-11-8-9 (of 11)

1996 (firm): 8-10-12-9 (of 15)

1997 (good): 2-13-9-1 (of 14)

1998 (good): 12-5-4-13 (of 13)

1999 (soft): 4-2-1-5 (of 8)

2000 (very soft): 14-13-11-10 (of 14)

2001 (good): 2-10-1-7 (of 14)

2002 (good): 11-13-9-6 (of 15)

2003 (good): 4-3-5-2 (of 7)

2004 (good to soft): 10-8-1-2 (of 15)

Conclusions? Two of the 10 winners were drawn highest of all, and six were drawn within six of the outside.  On one occasion, the first four places were filled by horses drawn in the four highest stalls (of 11), and on another, the first four places were filled by horses drawn in four of the five highest stalls (of 14).  Also, in the three renewals run on ground softer than good, the type of ground that we will probably have tomorrow, small sample size though it is, high numbers appear to have been favoured.  There is an even spread but, if there is an advantage going, on this evidence, it appears to be with the high numbers, not with the low numbers. 

There is a small left-handed turn after the 12-furlong start at Chantilly which does not exist at Longchamp, and there is a chance that it is that turn which turns the draw bias on its head, that it hands a slight advantage to the high-drawn horses, or at least reduces or negates the advantage that the low-drawn horses should ordinarily have in an Arc.

Polydream could emulate Perfections

The Freddy Head-trained filly Polydream is obviously a talented filly, but she could go mainstream tomorrow when she is set to line up in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly.

By Oasis Dream out of a Green Tune mare who won a listed race over a mile, the Wertheimer Brothers’ filly was sent off at odds-on on her racecourse debut at Deauville at the end of July, in a six-furlong maiden, which she duly won easily, before stepping forward from that to win the Group 3 Prix du Calvados back at Deauville last month over seven furlongs. 

She looked impressive that day, she came clear of Karl Burke’s filly Laurens, and she left the impression that she won easily, probably with a fair bit more in hand than the one-and-three-quarters-of-a-length winning margin, and Laurens was nicely clear of the rest of the field.

The form of that race was obviously enhanced when Laurens stayed on strongly to win the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting, doing well to win given that she had to come from behind off a relatively sedate pace.

Just one other filly from the Prix du Calvados has run to date, Fou Rire, who had finished second to Polydream on her debut, and who has since won her maiden at Maisons-Laffitte. 

Elusive Kate and Six Perfections followed up their Prix du Calvados wins by landing the Marcel Boussac, and Polydream could emulate those two fillies tomorrow.  The 16/1 that is currently available about her for next year’s 1000 Guineas could evaporate fairly rapidly.

Dublin Racing Festival

It was good to see some of the detail of next February’s Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown emerge during the week.  €1.5 million in prize money, three Grade 1 races on the Saturday, four Grade 1 races on the Sunday, and a new Grade 2 two-mile chase. 

It’s as exciting a development as it was when it was first mooted, only now it’s only four months away.  It should be a new focal point for the National Hunt season, not just in Ireland but in Britain as well, a high point between the high of Christmas and the high of Cheltenham, and before the Fairyhouse-Aintree-Punchestown spring rat-tat-tat.

It’s three big Sundays rolled into one big weekend, and that makes a lot of sense.  High-profile sport is about big bangs these days.  If you want to compete for an audience with other sports, if you want to draw attention in this increasingly crowded space, you need to be significant, and this is significant.

Roll the three Sundays together, package it well, and move the Irish Gold Cup back a week so that it is half way between Christmas and Cheltenham.  Perfect.  Now get the horses to come and get the people to come.  It could be massive.  When Ruby Walsh says that it is an amazing initiative, and when Willie Mullins says that it is one of the most exciting developments in Irish National Hunt racing in years, you know that you are on the right track. 

Top week for Dempsey

Last week was a top week for trainer Philip Dempsey.  At Navan on Saturday, he had three runners, a faller, a second and a winner, Kilkeaskins First, who was an impressive winner of the two-mile handicap hurdle. 

At Roscommon on Monday, he had two runners, a second and another winner, Teacher’s Pet, an easy winner of the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase.  Then at Sligo on Wednesday, he had two more runners, and two more winners, Coeur Joyeux who ultimately won the two-mile-five-furlong beginners’ chase doing handsprings, and Routes Choice, who stayed on well under Barry Browne to win the three-mile handicap chase.

As a bonus, the other three winners were ridden by the trainer’s son Luke.

That’s four winners and two seconds that Dempsey has had from just seven runners this week, which is impressive for a trainer who had just nine winners in the entire of last season.  The Kilkeaskin House trainer has his horses in top form, and everything he runs these days is worth a second look.

Winter is here

So Zarak’s dam won the Arc and One Foot In Heaven’s dam won the Champion Stakes and finished second in the Arc, and Ulysses’ dam won the Oaks and Plumatic’s dam won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. 

Winter’s dam won the Wokingham.  But Winter is by Galileo, so why not? 

(Seventh Heaven’s dam won a Grade 3 race over six furlongs, and she has already won an Irish Oaks and a Yorkshire Oaks.)

© The Irish Field, 30th September 2017