Given that 16 of the last 20 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners have been drawn in stall seven or lower, supporters of ante-post favourite Taghrooda have cause for concern after John Gosden’s Oaks and King George heroine was drawn wide in stall 15.
However, connections are taking heart from the fact that No 15 was also the starting berth of last year’s mesmerising victor, Treve, and they remain confident of a bold show in the £4 million race at Longchamp tomorrow.
Angus Gold, racing manager for Taghrooda’s owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “I believe she is drawn in the same place Treve was 12 months ago, so let’s hope we can get the same result. At the end of the day, we are where we are. We’ll take what we’re given and there is no point making a fuss about it.
“If she’s in the same form as she was going to Ascot for the King George, obviously she’d have a massive chance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you never know if they’re still at the top of their game at this time of year, but the signs are good. It’s been a special season. It’s not often you get one that good and that classy and who does it so willingly.
“For me, the Arc is the greatest race in the world. There are so many good horses and so many imponderables, but our filly has done absolutely nothing wrong through her life, she stays well, she’s got a lot of class, she’s got a turn of foot and she’s got a fantastic attitude, which makes such a difference.”
Following her breathtaking triumph at Longchamp a year ago, few would have believed Treve would return to defend her crown at double-figure odds and that is the case following a largely forgettable campaign. She has plenty to prove back at the scene of her greatest triumph, but has seemingly fared well in the draw with stall three and there appears to be renewed confidence from trainer Criquette Head-Maarek.
Harry Herbert, racing manager for owner Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing operation, said: “Criquette is certainly very happy with Treve and by all reports her last piece of work was extremely good. She showed that old Treve burst and finishing kick.”
The Al Shaqab team is also represented by Prix Niel winner Ectot (stall ten) as well as Aidan O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World (stall six), the mount of Frankie Dettori. O’Brien also runs Chicquita, who has plenty on her plate from stall 18 in the hands of the trainer’s son, Joseph, as well as Ryan Moore’s mount Tapestry (stall eight).
At Newmarket today, meanwhile, Integral is fancied to bounce back to her best following a disappointing French run last time with victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.
Sir Michael Stoute’s filly finished runner-up in the Group 1 last autumn, but she looks a far sharper horse as a four-year-old.
The other Pattern race on the card this afternoon, the Group 3 TriConnex Oh So Sharp Stakes, looks pretty moderate, at least on paper, but it may be worth an interest in the unexposed Local Time.
Godolphin could have a fine afternoon, with Encke taken to play a leading role in the BMW Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot.
Charlie Appleby has done a good job with the 2012 St Leger winner since his enforced hiatus following the Mahmood Al Zarooni drugs scandal. Now a five-year-old, the son of Kingmambo impressed upon his return to the fray at Goodwood, after which he finished third in the Irish St Leger.
That was no mean effort seeing it was just his second start for two years, and clearly underscored that the fires still burn brightly.
Ascot’s big betting heat of the day is the totepool Challenge Cup, which can fall to American Hope and the unheralded Mike Murphy yard.
Redcar’s totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy has attracted a potential star in Limato, who should make no mistake for the Henry Candy operation.