The field assembled for the 92nd Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), Europe's premier middle-distance race Oct. 6 at Longchamp, looks to be one of best in recent years.
There are 13 group I winners among the 18 horses entered, including last year's close runner-up Orfevre, Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner Ruler of The World, undefeated Prix de Diane (Fr-I, French Oaks) winner Treve, Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I, French Derby) winner Intello, Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby) victor Kizuna, Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I) winner Leading Light, and elite middle-distance performerAl Kazeem. The field was reduced to 17 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) winner Novellist developed a fever and was scratched.
The Arc is valued at €4,800,000 ($6,531,692 in United States funds), making it the richest race in Europe. The race is one of seven group I races on Arc day and one of 13 group races overall at the Parisian racecourse during Arc weekend. Post time for the Arc, the fifth race on the card, is 10:15 EDT and can be viewed on HRTV.
Orfevre is the 5-2 pre-race favorite with Racing Post and gets another shot at glory in the race after his heartbreaking runner-up finish by a neck to Solemia last year.
Sunday Racing Co.'s son of Stay Gold swept from the the widest post in the 18-horse Arc field and passed nearly all his opponents to seize command 200 meters out. But he hung right and appeared to weaken as the hard-charging filly stormed to the finish line.
"You can't change what happened last year, but we can go back to the Arc with confidence," jockey Christophe Soumillon said. "Last year was very frustrating, but this year I hope to make dreams come true."
Japan's 2011 Horse of the Year comes into this year's Arc having only two 2013 starts. He won the Sankei Osaka Hai (Jpn-II) March 31 at Hanshin and did not start again until winning his Arc trial, the Prix Foy (Fr-II), by three lengths over Very Nice Name Sept. 15 at Longchamp. He won last year's Prix Foy over Meandre, who also is entered in this year's Arc.
Orfevre will start from post 6.
Japan has sent 12 previous runners to the Arc, beginning with Speed Symboli in 1969. The best showing among the dozen has been the runner-up finishes of Orfevre last year and El Condor Pasa in 1999.
This year, Japan is double-handed for the Arc as the nation also is represented Japanese Derby winner Kizuna, a Deep Impact colt who nosed out favorite Ruler of the World in the Prix Niel (Fr-II) in his Arc trial Sept. 15. He will break from post 14 with Yutaka Take aboard
Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's unbeaten French filly Treve displayed her electric turn of foot to win the Qatar Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) under Frankie Dettori in her trial for the Arc after taking the Prix de Diana in a romp in June.
Trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, the daughter of Motivator is perfect in four career starts and will try to become sixth filly to complete the Vermeille/Arc double the same year and first since Zarkava in 2008. Dettori will miss the mount on Treve and the rest of the season after breaking his ankle in a fall at Nottingham Oct. 2. Thierry Jarnet inherits the mount on the Treve, who is drawn widest in post 18.
Treve, Leading Light, and recent Preis von Europa (Ger-I) winner Meandre were all been supplemented to the Arc at a cost of €100,000 ($135,540).
John Deer's Al Kazeem carries the hopes of Wales in the Arc. Sidelined for most of last season with a hairline fracture to his pelvis, the 5-year-old Dubawi horse returned in fine fettle this year and reeled off four straight group wins, including three group I events in 41 days—the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
Al Kazeem is seeking to rebound from a pair of losses, a third to Declaration of War and Trading Leather in the Juddmonte International (Eng-I) Aug. 21 at York, and a runner-up finish to The Fugue in the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) Sept. 7 at Leopardstown. Al Kazeem will start from post 3 with James Doyle aboard.
Flintshire will try to emulate Rail Link, who won the Arc in 2006 for the same connections: owner/breeder Khalid Abdullah, trainer Andre Fabre, and sire Dansili.
Beginning this spring, Flintshire has followed same path to the Arc as Rail Link, winning in the Prix du Lys (Fr-II) and the Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I) before running in the Prix Niel (Fr-II). Rail Link won his Arc prep in the Prix Neil, but Flintshire finish fourth in the race Sept. 15, a finish that deposed him as the Arc pre-race favorite. Maxime Guyon rides him from post 10.
Fabre has entered four other runners as he aims for an eighth win in the Arc, including Alain and Gerard Wertheimer's Prix du Jockey Club winner Intello, who last time out easily defeated French Derby runner-up Morandi in the Prix du Prince d'Orange (Fr-III) Sept. 21 at Longchamp.
A Galileo colt, Intello followed up his French Derby win with victory the Prix Messidor (Fr-III) in July at Maisons-Laffitte but found Moonlight Cloud too tough in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) in August at Deauville and finish fourth. He starts from post 17 in the Arc, with Olivier Peslier in the saddle.
Fabre also sends out Teruya Yoshida's Prix d'Hedouville (Fr-III) winner Pirika, who finished third behind Orfevre in the Prix Foy; Prince Faisal's Prix Greffulhe (Fr-III) winner Ocovango, third-place finisher in the Prix Niel; and Godolphin's French stakes winner Penglai Pavilion.
Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien sends out two classic winners in Leading Light and Ruler of The World for Coolmore and partners.
Ruler of The World comes in off losses in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and the Prix Niel. The Galileo colt will try to get back on track after launching his racing career with three consecutive wins, including the Epsom Derby and the Chester Vase (Eng-III). Ryan Moore will ride the colt from post 15.
A 3-year-old Montjeu colt, Leading Light dropped his debut last August at Galway but initiated a five-race win sequence that includes back-to-back triumphs in the Queen's Vase Stakes (Eng-I) at two miles in June at Royal Ascot and the 1 3/4-mile St. Leger September 14 at Doncaster. French rider Gerald Mosse has the mount on Leading Light, who will break from post 11.
Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov's Meandre will make a third attempt to win the Arc following his sixth-place finish in 2011 and 12th-place effort last year. In his most recent outing, the 5-year-old Slickly horse finished first in the Preis von Europa but was disqualified for alleged interference. His connections won an appeal, and Meandre was reinstated as the winner.
Meandre has the services of jockey Umberto Rispoli and will start from post 5.
Other runners include South American Going Somewhere, a 4-year-old Sulamani colt who will try to halt a four-race winless stretch since winning the 2012 Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-I), South America's premier race, last December at San Isidro.
The six other group I races on the Arc undercard are the Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp for 2-year-olds and older going 1,000 meters (about five furlongs); the Total Prix Marcel Boussac for 2-year-old fillies at 1,600 meters (about one mile); the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-I) for 2-year-olds at 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs); the Prix de l'Opera Longines for fillies and mares going 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles); the Qatar Prix de la Foret for 3-year-olds and older going 1,400 meters; and the Qatar Prix du Cadran for 4-year-olds and older at 4,000 meters (about 2 1/2 miles).