Treve is the hot 11/10 favourite to make history by scoring a hat-trick in Europe’s richest race, the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday (2.55pm live on CH4 TV).
But is it the foregone conclusion that the bookmakers’ odds suggest? This Arc preview makes the case that it possibly is not. Treve is a fragile mare with a history of back problems and the quick ground conditions look likely to be less than ideal for her.
This five-year-old daughter of Motivator does deserve to lead the market. She has been very carefully campaigned and is unbeaten in her three runs since her surprise second Arc win last year – she was sent off at 11/1. Her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek (pictured) believes she has her ‘where she was at three’ but admits that she ‘can’t say for sure she is going to win’ – and that was before the ground turned.
Treve’s victory last time out in the Arc trial, the Group 1 Prix Vermeille (for fillies and mares) over course and distance three weeks ago looked very impressive but ‘looked’ is the key word. Yes, she quickened smartly away to win by six lengths but it was a distinctly lacklustre field. The time was nothing special either. It was over a second slower than the Group 2 Prix Foy won by Postponed later in the day. The going was described as very soft, suiting Treve, and may well have become more testing by the time of the Prix Foy.
The other Arc trial that day, the Group 2 Prix Niel for three year olds, was won by Andre Fabre’s New Bay (9/2) in a time two seconds slower than Postponed. He was sent off as the evens favourite and won easily by two and a half lengths under a hands and heels ride by Vincent Cheminaud. But the only other fancied horse, the 2/1 second favourite Erupt (33/1), didn’t appear to get the distance in the mud, finishing fourth, beaten over ten lengths.
It was the first time New Bay had been tested over a mile and a half. He clearly has plenty of stamina as well as the speed to win over shorter distances. He beat Aidan O’Brien’s very useful Highland Reel to take the French Derby (run over a mile and a quarter) by a length and a half at the end of May. That was at Chantilly on good to soft. He was next seen winning a Group 2 at Deauville on heavy ground.
New Bay won a conditions race on good ground on his debut this season here in April. He was subsequently sent straight into an 18 runner Group 1 and finished a very creditable second behind his stablemate, Make Believe, over a mile on good to soft. We don’t know how this son of Dubawi will fare in top class company on quicker ground but he looks very likely to give a good account of himself.
After his Prix Niel flop Erupt, another son of Dubawi, is available at 33/1. Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, he shares a rating of 119 with New Bay and was unbeaten until his first encounter with soft ground and he hasn’t been running in donkey races.
Erupt took a Group 1 over course and distance on good going in mid July. He beat Andre Fabre’s Ampere by two lengths and had William Haggas’ Storm The Stars another length behind him in third. Graffard’s yard is in good form and, if Erupt has survived his first encounter of mud physically and mentally unscathed, he has to be worth a very good look as an each way prospect.
Golden Horn (9/2), the Epsom Derby winner, is a more fancied three-year-old to challenge Treve. His owner breeder Anthony Oppeinheimer is convinced that Golden Horn would win easily on good to firm ground – a claim that Treve’s jockey, Thierry Jarnet immediately disputed. Golden Horn’s trainer John Gosden has diplomatically voiced respect for both Treve and New Bay but he must be quietly rubbing his hands together with good (possibly good to firm in English terms) ground in prospect.
Golden Horn has been campaigned at the highest level this season and has been beaten only once. That defeat may well have been due to a tactical blunder by Frankie Dettori on tacky ground at York in the Juddmonte in August. David Elsworth’s 50/1 shot, Arabian Queen, was allowed to get too far away resulting in a neck defeat.
Last time out this son of Cape Cross looked less than a superstar when winning the Irish Champion Stakes in September. It was run on unsuitably ‘yielding’ ground and he compromised his own chances, as well as Free Eagle’s (16/1), when jinking dramatically and cannoning in to him after seeing a shadow on the run in. Dettori had bustled him up from the off, to avoid repeating his mistake at York. Conditions are likely to suit him on Sunday and he has to be one for this Arc preview’s betting tips shortlist.
Gosden also saddles Lady Bamford’s Eagle Top (50/1) who has not scored since beating Aidan O’Brien’s globetrotting Group 1 winner, Adelaide in the Group 2 King Edward Stakes (over a mile and a half) at Royal Ascot last year. This four-year-old son of Pivotal was beaten a nose by Postponed in the King George at Ascot in July on soft but was a disappointing third when starting 8/11 favourite in an Arc Trial at Newbury in September. Gosden claims that Eagle Top hated the holding ground and deserves to try his chances here.
Eagle Top is usually a solid performer but it is difficult to imagine him achieving more than a minor placing in this company, especially conceding weight to younger rivals.
O’Brien’s Found, is the only three-year-old filly to line up. Her current price of 16/1 suggests she will need more than her weight allowance to succeed. She was the runner-up, beaten a length, to Golden Horn in the Irish Champion Stakes (over a mile and a quarter). Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle (14/1), who had been bumped by the winner, finished half a length behind her. She had the benefit of a clear run, unaffected by the barging but still could not prevail.
She has never run a bad race but has come across one too good on four of her five outings this season. If she benefits from her first experience of this distance – which is possible as a daughter of Galileo – she might not be the only female in the frame. The assistance of Ryan Moore aids her cause.
The sharp focus on Treve has helped another five year old slip below the Arc betting radar. Last year it was the Andre Fabre- trained Flintshire (20/1) who finished two lengths behind her in second at Longchamp. It was not just Treve who got the better of the more strongly fancied three-year-old contingent.
At the end of June Flintshire finished a length and a quarter behind Treve in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Dolniya (33/1) was a further two and a half lengths behind him in third. Most recently this son of Dansili proved his wellbeing by winning a Grade 1 race in the US at Saratoga very comfortably in late August. He has had time to recover from his travels and will love the likely conditions.
Fabre has an exceptional record in the Arc, taking it seven times. The prospect of decent ground on the day bodes well for Flintshire’s chances but puts a question mark over New Bay. It does not take a massive leap of faith to see Fabre scoring an eighth time here.
No five year old has won the Arc since Marienbard in 2002 for Godolphin. You have to go back to 1988 to find another, Tony Bin. Before that it was Star Appeal under Greviile Starkey in 1975. They tend to score about once in every 13 years – so we’re due another.
Our Arc Preview’s Betting Tips Conclusion
Treve, the undisputed queen of Longchamp, looks to be the one they have to beat but, currently best priced at 11/10, she is not an attractive betting proposition on good ground. Golden Horn (9/2) looks much more tempting as a beneficiary of conditions, as does Flintshire (20/1) – could he be the occasional five-year-old instead of Treve?
History might just be made by Treve or thwarted by Golden Horn but outstanding value looks to lie with lightly-raced Erupt, whose only blot on the form book came on very soft ground and he is our Arc preview’s betting tips selection:
- ERUPT appears overlooked and overpriced. He appeals as a tasty each-way proposition at best odds of 33/1 with Betfair Sportsbook, William Hill, BetVictor or Ladbrokes who all offer 1/4 the odds on the first three places.