Longchamp Arc Trials day can give punters clues about Europe’s most valuable Flat turf race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. This year’s card was unusual in that the Grand Prix de Paris was on it.
That Group 1 contest for three-year-olds has a traditional midsummer slot, but France Gallop moved it in this most extraordinary year. The Group 1 Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares and Group 2 Prix Foy, however, are fixtures on the card. Just who were the winners and losers from Longchamp Arc Trials this year?
Speedy Mogul advertises claims in Grand Prix
Given his full brother Japan won the Grand Prix de Paris last year, Mogul was always interesting on breeding. That brought lofty expectations with it which he hasn’t always lived up to.
Form wise, Mogul came into the Grand Prix with an in and out record this term. Disappointing in both the King Edward VII Stakes and Epsom Derby, he then delivered in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
After that, the Aidan O’Brien trained colt failed to fire in the Great Voltigeur. It wasn’t quite last chance saloon territory for Mogul, but punters already had their fingers burned by betting slips with his name on them.
Pierre-Charles Boudot rode him off the pace and then asked him to quicken in the Longchamp home straight. He was as impressive sneaking up the inside rail and leaving his rivals for dead as anything on the card.
That gave O’Brien a third win in the Grand Prix in as many seasons and five overall. Obviously, the bookmakers didn’t miss Mogul who was as big as 50/1 for the Arc before the race.
For all of the O’Brien talk about the world being his oyster, the horse notably did not feature among six sent into quarantine for missions Down Under at the Spring Carnival. The Coolmore lads have favourite Love for the Arc but multiple Ballydoyle raiders is common enough.
Mogul is now a top-price 25/1 with William Hill but as short as 10s elsewhere which puts him right in there behind his stable companion and Enable. A repeat of his Grand Prix effort should have him in the mix if contesting the Arc.
In Swoop also eye-catching in-behind
German Derby scorer In Swoop was best of the rest in the Grand Prix when pouncing late and reversing previous form with old rival Gold Trip for second. While Francis-Henri Graffard’s charge didn’t show the turn of foot demonstrated by Mogul, he did stay on very well.
The Grand Prix was just the fourth run of his career, so there’s plenty of further scope for improvement. In Swoop was bred in Ireland but with a German sire and dam. It’s not all that surprising that he kept on in that manner, then.
A race like the Arc demands even more and In Swoop is 33/1 with William Hill for it, so connections may be tempted to step him up in trip. There are other valuable prizes on that weekend at Longchamp with the Prix Chauudenay for three-year-olds one race to consider.
The beauty of Group 1s like the Grand Prix and Arc are they often tie international form lines together. Surprise Epsom Derby hero Serpentine was only fourth, but hadn’t run since landing the premier British Classic.
Port Guillaume bitterly disappointing
Prix Hocquart hero Port Guillaume is by the biggest loser from the Grand Prix. Backed into 19/10 favourite, he was beaten approaching two out and his new foreign owner won’t be going to the Arc on the back of that.
Instead, Port Guillaume now leaves the care of Jean-Claude Rouget for Australia. Once he gets Down Under, the Melbourne Cup could well be on his agenda but he will need to show that his Grand Prix outing was just a blip.
This was a very bad weekend for his former trainer, but we will get to that. Last year’s Arc third Sottsass tried to warm-up for another bid in the Irish Champion Stakes yet could only finish fourth at Leopardstown.
Port Guillaume was a horse I really fancied off the back of a taking Group 2 success at Deauville. He had been an eye-catching fifth in the Prix du Jockey Club before that, but his career now continues on the other side of the world.
Raabihah a big Longchamp Arc trials loser
The Prix Vermeille was supposed to be a mere formality for Raabihah. Her handler Rouget talked her up for Arc beforehand, billing her as a future champion. Hamdan Al Maktoum’s three-year-old filly couldn’t win despite 8lb weight-for-age from her elders, however.
A daughter of Sea The Stars, Raabihah has now disappointed in two big races. She did stay on and snatch second from British raider Dame Malliot, but was three lengths adrift of the Vermeille winner.
She is lucky perhaps in that her owner has Enbihaar for the Prix Royallieu over a two furlongs further. Sheikh Hamdan will want to keep the pair apart and Raabihah is a 16/1 shot for the Arc with Betway despite that defeat.
Rouget’s string does not look to be as strong as he thinks it is. Sottsass and Raabihah both need to step up on recent efforts if either wants to be involved in the finish of the Arc this year.
Careful minding of Tarnawa pays off
Irish trainer Dermot Weld has always thought a lot of Tarnawa. Her owner, the Aga Khan, has been a huge support of the stable down the years. This Vermeille success was not unexpected either.
Tarnawa was backed into about 11/2 and the form of her Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes win at Cork had a strong look to it. That was because the runner-up Cayenne Pepper landed the Blandford Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend earlier in the same day.
With Tarnawa, who has international targets this autumn according to Weld, the only concern was her travelling. She was well-beaten on both her British starts, but winning the Vermeille was no accident.
A maiden Group 1 success for Tarnawa as she challenged Irish Oaks heroine Even So for second-favouritism can give connections a lot of satisfaction. As with Rouget, this was not a good weekend for Ger Lyons.
Stradivarius cannot be discounted after Longchamp Arc Trials
On the face of it, Stradivarius has lost all three of his starts over 1m 4f. The case against him going for the Arc is obvious, but is it a little too obvious?
The Prix Foy was the last of the Longchamp Arc trials in which Anthony Van Dyck confirmed Coronation Cup form with John Gosden’s champion stayer. There was just a short-head, and a diminishing one at that, between the pair at the line here.
Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, isn’t discouraged by his Prix Foy display. Whether he is best-placed to judge after English King’s disappointments is another matter.
Stradivarius stays a whole lot further than the Arc, so the alternatives are obvious. He could bid instead to regain the Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day at Ascot.
The Arc seems more likely based on the whims of the man paying Gosden to train him, though. Frankie Dettori probably isn’t going to ditch Enable to ride Stradivarius mind
That wonder-mare, a fellow six-year-old, has won the Arc twice and finished second last year. Without the Frankie factor, Stradivarius is as big as 20/1 with Bet365 to land the race.
Fellow relative veteran Way To Paris who thrived throughout the summer ran below his fine fine from earlier in the campaign here. His campaign may be over, but on the evidence of the Longchamp Arc Trials, his chances are minute.