Welcome to our latest column from Scott Armstrong of The Sportsman tipster service.
Each Friday, Scott will be provide us with a rundown of all the best weekend racing action – all the key horses to follow and those to oppose. You can also find a recap from him each Monday on the SBC Blog with his reaction to the weekend’s events. Thorough, frank and not afraid to take a contrary view Scott Armstrong is a racing man whose opinion you can’t afford to be without.
This week Scott pores over the main contenders for l’Arc de Triomphe, which is expected to be run in rare October sunshine, making the ground a major factor for weighing up the best bets. Scott has some firm views on why three year olds are the ones to watch in Paris and he has an each way bet to nothing for you to follow in.
There are no doubts about the biggest race of the weekend – the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where thousands of racing fans will flock by plane and Eurostar to watch a great renewal of the flat seasons blockbuster race. Paris has been ablaze with sun over the past week and the Arc could be run on unusually quick ground. It’s difficult to make bold statements regarding how the ground will be on Sunday as the Longchamp ground-staff will have the water hoses turned on full blast, however conditions should remain good or on the firm side of good.
The draw is another massive factor to consider before placing your money as it’s a major plus to be drawn low with 16 of the last 18 winners of the Arc emerging from single-digit boxes.
Looking at the age groups, since 1990, sixteen three year olds have won the Arc, a 76% strike rate for the Classic generation. The significance of this being how generously treated the three-year olds are. On the weight-for-age scale three-year old fillies and colts get 11lb and 8lb respectively from the older horses in the Arc. That is a major bonus for the time of the year where three-year olds are improving both physically and mentally as they approach the age of four when they tend to be fully developed.
The Classic generation are represented this year by seven of the sixteen runner field. Masked Marvel is an interesting one with the wily John Gosden team having supplemented his charge late in the day to the tune of 100,000 euros. Gosden got it spot on when supplementing Masked Marvel for £75,000 for the St Leger and he has every chance of putting on a bold performance.
Galikova may have the best chance of the three-year olds and sits third best in the betting markets at 15-2. A half-sister to the wonderful Goldikova, much has always been expected of her and she has had a fine season suffering only one defeat at the Prix De Diane when she was later found to be in season. Galdikova can handle both good and soft ground and can go well under her allowance though may lack the final burst of acceleration when push comes to shove.
Meandre has also been supplemented for the race and granted his favoured sound surface he will have his backers at odds of 12-1. He didn’t run up to scratch when second to Reliable Man in the Prix Niel but with the latter unlikely to get his favoured cut in the ground he can reverse the form between the two here.
The other three-year olds Dandream, Testosterone, Treasure Beach and Shareta look likely to find this tough.
The Older Contestants
Onto the older contestants where four-year old Sarafina holds market favouritism. Sarafina was a brave third to Workforce last year having suffered horrendous trouble in running which ruined her chances of success. When she got back into her stride she proved she has a tremendous burst of acceleration. My concern is in a fast-ground Arc, Sarafina will need to stand tough as she’s on the small side and she cannot allow too many horses to get the first run on her. Her natural style is to come from behind and that could signal trouble in such a roughly run race. On the stats side she also looks short enough at 4-1 as no four-year old filly has won this race since 1993.
Michael Stoute’s Workforce won the race last year and is again partnered by returning jockey Ryan Moore but like many before will find the race much tougher as a four-year old without the weight-for-age allowance. Five three-year old Arc winners have returned to defend their crowns since 1994 but all have been defeated. Ground conditions would also be a concern if on the firm side of good. Not one to be easily ruled out as a tremendous Derby winner but I think others hold stronger claims.
Ed Dunlop’s Snow Fairy has been all the rage as Paris enjoys an Indian summer and Frankie Dettori booked to ride. Snow Fairy gave So You Think a real battle in the Irish Champion Stakes pushing him all the way for a hard fought ½ length success and odds of 14-1 look fair for an each-way play.
Hiroto D’Amour was only beaten a neck by Sarafina last time and looks to offer some value at 16-1. Subject of some solid gallop reports his trainer Mitsugu Kon has stated “He is primed to run a big race”.
St Nicholas Abbey will stay the trip as well as anything in the field but the lack of juice in the ground may scupper his chances while Nakayama Festa only recently returned from injury.
That leaves Aidan O’Brien’s So You Think. Top-rated by Timefom on 142 he will relish the good going. A brilliant performer in Australia, he’s already won three Group 1’s since coming to race in Europe despite needing time to acclimatise.
So You Think has tasted success in four runs from five this season and although he was workmanlike when narrowly holding Snow Fairy in the Irish Champion Stakes, his previous defeat of Workforce in the Eclipse would make him hard to beat.
The majority of So You Think’s form is in the mile to a mile and a quarter ballpark and he wouldn’t like to be kicking on from the four furlong pole, with his preference for a moderate tempo in the race. The Arc may be run to suit with the pace being slowly wound up.
Kieran Fallon made an interesting statement when he said “Let’s not beat around the bush, if you asked every jockey riding in the race who they would want to ride, I’ll bet 90 percent would say So You Think and I am one of them.”
A race to watch and savour rather than invest in heavily, although So You Think at odds of 9-2 with Boylesports, 888sport and Bluesquare may offer you an each-way shot to nothing.
Scott’s service is one of the many racing and sporting tipsters that we monitor and recommend at the Smart Betting Club.