CAMELOT’S hopes of winning tomorrow’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp improved yesterday when Japanese rival Orfevre was handed a bad draw for the mile-and-a-half showpiece race.
Orfevre, the Japanese Triple Crown winner, has been in good form after winning last month’s Prix Foy on the same turf at Longchamp, but has been drawn in the 18th stall. The last horse to win from a double-figure draw was Dalakhani in 2003, which is good news for Camelot and three-time Arc winner Frankie Dettori after they were drawn in the fifth stall.
Orfevre and Camelot are vying for favouritism after defending champion and course record-holder Danedream was withdrawn earlier this week when her stables in Germany were placed into quarantine due to an outbreak of an equine infection.
Last year, Danedream covered the track in 2 minutes, 24.49 seconds to break the record set by Peintre Celebre in 1997. After Danedream withdrew, Camelot was entered Wednesday for Europe’s most prestigious flat race to make up for recent withdrawals of some high-profile rivals. British contenders Nathaniel and last year’s third-place finisher Snow Fairy were also withdrawn.
Camelot will look to make amends for his failure to complete a rare Triple Crown three weeks ago. The three-year-old colt was beaten at the post by Encke in the St Leger, having already won the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, narrowly failing to emulate the great Nijinsky – the last horse to complete the Triple Crown, back in 1972.
The 41-year-old Dettori, who will be racing in his 25th straight Arc, received the ride after Camelot’s usual jockey, Joseph O’Brien, was unable to get down to the required weight of 8st 11lb to race his father Aidan O’Brien’s horse.
Dettori feels confident of winning a fourth Arc, particularly considering Camelot’s favourable draw. The Italian jockey, who won on Lammtarra (1995), Sakhee (2001) and Marienbard (2002), said: “He looks to be tremendously well balanced. He came into his own in the Derby when he ran over a mile and a half. He spread-eagled the field and was mighty impressive. The Arc will be his absolute cup of tea.”
Although he did not get a chance to ride Camelot, Joseph nevertheless has a chance to show what he can do on St Nicholas Abbey from stall ten. “He’s been running well all season and I don’t see why he won’t again,” Joseph said. “He ran well in it last year, and it’s a big thrill to be riding him in a race like the Arc.”
Alain de Royer-Dupre, who trained Dalakhani and the unbeaten French thoroughbred Zarkava – Arc winner in 2008 – has a good chance of going one better with Shareta, the runner-up to Danedream last year.
Shareta, who will be ridden by veteran jockey Christophe Lemaire, comes into the race in superb form having won the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille on her past two starts.
Three of the last seven winners have raced from the sixth stall, where Solemia starts from.
Mikel Delzangles’ colt, Kesampour, is a dangerous outsider, finishing third in the Prix du Jockey-Club in June, a length behind Saonois, who is drawn in two.
Sea Moon and Masterstroke are in 16 and 17, with Great Heavens in seven.
The going at Longchamp was described as soft yesterday. Light showers are forecast today, but the rain is expected to abate and dry conditions are predicted tomorrow.
Meanwhile, on-loan Nottingham Forest midfielder James Coppinger has categorically denied being involved in horse race fixing.
Coppinger was one of nine people, including Ipswich striker Michael Chopra and jockey Andrew Heffernan, charged on Thurdsay in connection with race-fixing by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). But the 31-year-old, on loan at Forest from Doncaster, said in a statement on Forest’s official website: “I am here to state categorically that I have never been involved in any horse race fixing whatsoever. I can confirm that I have never done anything which brings Doncaster Rovers, Nottingham Forest, myself or my family into disrepute, and I will welcome the hearing in January to totally clear my name.”
All face bans from involvement with racing for several years if the charges are found proven. The charges relate to a period between November 2010 and March 2011.