2020 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) Preview
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Michael Adolphson
Race: Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Grade: Group 1
Purse: Approximately $5,583,805
Distance: 2400m (1½ Miles/12 furlongs)
Win and You’re In: Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)
• First contested in 1920
• First Sunday in October
• 12 furlongs on a right-handed turf course with some undulation and a false straight
• Weights: Older Horses 131lbs; Older Mares 128lbs; 3YO Colts 125lbs; 3YO Fillies 121lbs
• Top weight-for-age race in Europe
• Frankie Dettori leads all jockeys with 6 victories
• Trainer André Fabre leads all with 8 victories
• Khalid Abdullah, if Enable wins, will own the record of 7 victories; currently tied with legendary Marcel Boussac at 6
• Eight horses have won two editions; Enable will attempt to make history and win a third
• 1983 winner All Along was 2nd in the 1984 BC Turf
• 1986 winner Dancing Brave was 4th in the 1986 BC Turf
• 1987 winner Trempolino was 2nd in the 1987 BC Turf
• 1990 winner Saumarez was 5th in the 1990 BC Turf
• 1990 4th In the Wings won the 1990 BC Turf
• 1992 winner Subotica was 5th in the 1992 BC Turf
• 1993 winner Urban Sea went on to produce the great duo of Galileo and Sea the Stars
• 1994 winner Carnegie was 3rd in the 1995 BC Turf
• 1995 runner-up Freedom Cry was 2nd in the 1995 BC Turf
• 1996 runner-up Pilsudski won the 1996 BC Turf
• 1999 winner Montjeu was 7th in the 2000 BC Turf
• 1999 9th Daylami won the 1999 BC Turf
• 2001 winner Sakhee was 2nd in the 2001 BC Classic
• 2002/2003 3rd High Chaparral went on to win the 2002/2003 BC Turf
• 2004 winner Bago was 4th in the 2005 BC Turf
• 2005 winner Hurricane Run was 6th in the 2006 BC Turf
• 2005 4th Shirocco won the 2005 BC Turf
• 2007 winner Dylan Thomas was 5th in the 2007 BC Turf
• 2009 4th Conduit won the 2008/2009 BC Turf
• 2011 5th St Nicholas Abbey won the 2011 BC Turf
• 2015 9th Found won the 2015 BC Turf
• 2015 winner Golden Horn was 2nd in the 2015 BC Turf
• 2016 winner Found was 3rd in the 2016 BC Turf
• 2016 2nd Highland Reel won the 2016 BC Turf
• 2018 winner Enable won the 2018 BC Turf—the only horse to complete the same-year double
• 2019 winner Waldgeist was 4th in the 2018 BC Turf
Note: OR (Official Ratings) are provided. To give class context on those numbers, sprint superstar Lady Aurelia and champion Tepin were rated 122, Goldikova topped out at 125 and the great Sea the Stars was rated 135.
(John Gosden / Frankie Dettori) – 6/5
Juddmonte Farms (Khalid Abdullah)
To many, she is greatness in horseflesh. To others, she is simply an exceptional mare who has done exceptional things over multiple seasons. To all, 2018 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Enable is recognized as the most universally loved horse in training. A proper balance of speed, stamina and an immense will to win, the Juddmonte homebred comes into the 2020 Arc attempting to rewrite the record books and become the first three-time winner of Europe’s top weight-for-age affair. Trained by five-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner John Gosden and ridden by 14-time Breeders’ Cup winner Frankie Dettori, Enable has had a solid 2020 season and appears to be coming into the race as well as last year. She won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) by 5½ lengths against G1 winners Sovereign and Japan, was a seven-length winner of the September Stakes (G3)—a race she used en route to 2018 Arc success—and was a good second in Ghaiyyath’s Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1), a race for which she was reportedly “80% fit” when kicking off her campaign. The team behind Enable will have her ready to give her best yet again. The winner of 15 of 18 (11 G1s in four countries) was kept in training for this moment and the whole of the racing world will hold its breath as she tackles perhaps her greatest opponent: history.
• VIDEO: 2020 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) – (At The Races)
• VIDEO: 2019 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) – (At The Races)
• VIDEO: 2018 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) – (Breeders’ Cup)
• VIDEO: 2018 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) – (Equidia)
• VIDEO: 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) – (iTV)
(John Gosden / Olivier Peslier) – 5/1
If there were no Enable, Stradivarius would possibly be the proverbial darling of the racing world, but unfortunately for him, said mare resides just a few feet away in the John Gosden yard. On Sunday, the little horse with the big heart has a chance to finally take her on. Undoubtedly the best galloper on the planet at 14 furlongs and beyond, Bjorn Nielsen’s 125-rated chestnut charge is trying to conquer 12 furlongs in the Arc, as well as some of the best middle-distance horses in Europe. The son of Sea the Stars has dominated the UK staying division for multiple seasons, including three consecutive victories in the prestigious 2½-mile Ascot Gold Cup (G1). The seven-time G1 winner has tried this distance twice, finishing third to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup (G1) at Newmarket and then, last out, a good course-and-distance second to 2019 Investec Derby (G1) winner Anthony Van Dyck in the Prix Foy (G2). While some believe he is not up to par with Enable or G1 types like Sottsass, many are sure of two things: he will handle any kind of ground and will get a lot more pace to set him up this time. A relentless closer with a surprisingly potent turn-of-foot, the earner of nearly $4 million will get a new rider, as well, in Olivier Peslier (Frankie Dettori sticks with Enable). That should likely be a non-issue. What should be of concern is where he is placed midway through the race and how much work a horse like him will have to do in the final two furlongs. In the end, after his 10-length win in the soft going of this year’s Gold Cup, the more it rains, the lower his odds will become.
(Aidan O’Brien / Ryan Moore) – 10/1
Coolmore (Tabor, Magnier & Smith)
Mogul is the proverbial ‘now horse’ for Ballydoyle. After the scratch of stablemate and race favorite Love, contracted rider Ryan Moore now pilots the good-looking $4.6 million colt who enters off a strong course victory in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1) three weeks ago. Do not be fooled by his feathery 109 rating, as this son of Galileo and full-brother to Japan is getting very good at the right time and is perfectly capable of taking another step forward. How big of a step is the intrigue. Soft ground will be another question for him, but Japan ran well enough to be fourth in this last year over similarly boggy conditions. Mogul is joined by three other Coolmore color-bearers, including his aforementioned brethren.
Japan (14/1) was brilliant in 2019, including a win in the Juddmonte International (G1), but must move forward substantially to overcome his disappointing season. O’Brien appears confident he will. Similar conditions to last year (ground-wise) will raise confidence in that mindset and lower his price on the market. Both he and his brother will need a good pace to chase and such could come from one of two classic-winning stablemates, Serpentine (16/1) and Sovereign (50/1). The former shocked all when winning the Investec Derby (G1) in gate-to-wire fashion in July, sauntering to 5½-length win over a field that included Mogul. Sovereign did something similar in last year’s Irish Derby (G1) and was a respectable, yet distant, second to Enable in late July’s King George. Of the two, Serpentine appears the most dangerous, as he was supplemented and is still quite unexposed.
(Andre Fabre / Pierre-Charles Boudot) – 20/1
Godolphin SNC & Ballymore Thoroughbred Ltd
While not as fancied as one would expect of a locally based multiple 2020 Group 1 winner, Persian King has a lot going for him. Other than the obvious value of a current 20/1 line, he is trained and ridden by Waldgeist’s upset team from last year, the amazing Andre Fabre and rising star Pierre-Charles Boudot. Where the son of Kingman takes a hit is a stamina query, having never raced beyond 10.5 furlongs and losing said run to fellow Arc runner Sottsass (2019 French Derby). There are mixed signals in his running style and pedigree, to boot. He has a great deal of speed, as seen when sitting close and then defeating Pinatubo last out in the one-mile Prix du Moulin (G1), but conversely appears to be very kind and responsive to Boudot. By a miler sire, he is out of a three-quarter-sister to 10-furlong specialist Planteur and is a grandson of Arc, Irish Derby and King George (all 12 furlongs) winner Dylan Thomas. The bottom line is he is bred to be a very good 10-furlong horse and sometimes classy 10-furlong horses stretch nicely to 12 furlongs. Other times they are simply too speedy for their own good and prefer a curtailed distance. The proverbial jury is out on everything except for: top connections, soft-ground form and exiting a huge course win. Sidebar: in 2007, Fabre took Manduro, who had never been beyond 10.5f, from a win in the one-mile Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) to a victory in the 12-furlong Prix Foy (G2) five weeks later.
Other Runners, in Brief: Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget knows how to win the big ones and has been aiming Shadwell Farm-bred 3-year-old filly Raabihah (14/1) and Sistercharlie’s 4-year-old half-brother Sottsass (10/1) to this race all year. Both must move forward a few lengths from their 2020 runs in order to win, but homefield advantage is noted. Peter Brant-owned Sottsass was third in this last year over trying ground and would not be a surprise to step up. Raabihah, who carries 10lbs less, has been a star all year, but was dwarfed at short odds by Tarnawa last out in the Prix Vermeille (G1). She must prove that was a line-through race. Cristian Demuro, rider for both, has chosen to partner Sottsass (Maxime Guyon rides Raabihah)… Gestut Schlenderhan’s German Derby (G1) winner In Swoop (16/1) has been getting some attention with ante-post bettors and enters on a late-closing second in Mogul’s Grand Prix de Paris (G1) for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, beaten 2½ lengths. He’s an improving type that you often see snag a top-four spot in this kind of race—but he must move forward a few lengths to even consider such a feat against these… Toji Morita’s Mitsuru Hashida-trained Deirdre (50/1) has opted for this spot over an arguably better-suited race in the 10-furlong Prix de l’Opera (G1). As they say, ‘go big or go home’ and home is 6,000 miles away in Japan. She started off the year in great form in Saudi Arabia, but various ailments interrupted the G1-winning world traveler’s conditioning. At her best, she has proven she can get a big chunk of any pot, as she did in the $6 million Dubai Turf (G1) and $3.6 million Hong Kong Cup (G1)… Ecurie Jean-Louis Bouchard’s 3-year-old Gold Trip (40/1) was third in Mogul’s Grand Prix de Paris (G1), but lacked the needed punch to stay with the top two when the real running happened. A G2 winner, he would be a massive surprise to place, but the Fabrice Chappet-trained son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Outstrip has course form and that can be half the battle when it comes up soft… Andrea Marcialis-trained fan favorite Way to Paris (50/1) is hard to miss, as the 7-year-old nearly white warrior is always running hard to the line for owner Paolo Ferrario. A G1 winner this season in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, he comes in off a fifth in the Prix Foy (G2), finishing about three lengths behind Stradivarius, and was 11th beaten about six lengths by Enable in this two years ago. Stamina is his best tool in a race like this, as the ground could zap those suspect at the 12-furlong trip. He will be hoping for minor honors, at best, but would power the lights of Paris if he were to pull off the upset… French dual G3 winner Chachnak (100/1) and Bahrain International Trophy victor Royal Julius (150/1) are shooting for the stars and hoping to land on the moon. Both enter off solid performances in Group company several stratospheres below these.
Synopsis: Enable seeks history and has to defeat her own steel-willed stablemate, an imposing local team, difficult ground and the urge to move too soon over a tricky course that can defeat even the greatest of horses. Strategy plays such an incredibly vital role in the Arc, year after year. Stradivarius has earned his chance to compete here and will surely have a say in the outcome. Mogul is the ‘now horse’ leading a Coolmore quartet—it is just a matter of how much he can improve in three weeks to compete against the very best. Japan and Sottsass seek a return to form, but even at their best have been astern the great Enable. And let us not forget Persian King, Serpentine and Raabihah, who have every right to run huge races for capable connections. An absolutely captivating renewal.
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