Found, Golden Horn, Treve, Sea The Stars, Urban Sea, Dancing Brave, Mill Reef…
Just seven names on this distinguished roll of honour. These horses have gone on to excel all over the world in various aspects of racing. Urban Sea is arguably one of the best broodmares of the modern era as she is the dam of Galileo and Sea The Stars. Ten of the nineteen runners, who are set to go to post in this group one, are in some way related to this mare!
The race was first ran on 3rd October 1920 and the winner’s prize was 150,000 francs (about £1101 in modern money). In 2018, the prize fund to the horse first past the post is €3,150,000 (just over 20,000,000 Francs and just over £2,700,000). It is the richest horse race in Europe, the richest ran on turf and the third richest in the world behind the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup. The race was named after the Arc De Triomphe, the famous monument in Paris, because there was a victory parade there by the Allies after they won World War One in 1919.
British-trained horses have won the last three renewals of this race and one of those was Found who was trained by Aidan O’Brien. His runners make up a strong Irish challenge and he has trained the winner of this race on two occasions. He has five in the race but two of those, Nelson and Hunting Horn, will really struggle to land a blow in such hot company. Magical is one of three fillies in the line up and has the weakest chance of them all. She’s ran three times this season and landed a group two on her penultimate start. She will need to step. Kew Gardens is probably the Irish handler’s best chance of a winner. He won the St Leger last time out in spectacular style so will have stamina in abundance. He is one of just three course and distance winners in the line up so that will give him an advantage over the other runners. O’Brien won the St Leger the previous year with Capri, who is his second best. We have seen him twice this year on the racetrack when he won a group three but was then fifth behind Waldgeist, Talismanic, Cloth Of Stars, Way To Paris and ahead of Clincher.
The winner, Waldgeist, won his last four starts all in group company and all in good style. He was beaten just under two lengths by Capri in last year’s Irish Derby. He is a course and distance winner so that gives him the upper hand against Enable and Sea Of Class, who don’t have any experience at this track. He is a leading contender. Talismanic and Cloth Of Stars are his stable mates and their trainer Andre Fabre has won the race on seven different occasions. The former won the Breeder’s Cup Turf in November. He is a very classy individual and won well at the start of the season beating Cloth Of Stars convincingly. Cloth Of Stars will probably struggle the most out of the trio of Andre Fabre horses. He hasn’t won since landing the Prix Ganay in 2017 and was a really good second in this race last year but has been behind Waldgeist on all of his past three starts. Way To Paris is a dual Listed winner but will probably struggle at this level as he has been beaten three times by Waldgeist this season. Clincher is the Japanese runner and he won a grade two in February but he was well beaten by Waldgeist so may struggle.
The two favourites for this race are Enable and Sea Of Class. Enable won this last year when the race was held at Chantilly but has won at similar right-handed tracks in the UK. She is looking to become just the seventh horse to win the race twice and her jockey Frankie Dettori is the winning most jockey in the history of the race by winning it five times. She has only lost one race and is a five time group one winner. She has one of the best draws in stall 6 as twelve of the last sixteen runners were drawn in 8 or lower. We have only seen her run once this season which was at Kempton in the group three September Stakes as she had to overcome an injury in the early parts of the season. She beat the classy Crystal Ocean on that occasion and will be primed for this race. Sea Of Class is very unexposed compared to these having only ran five times. She was beaten on debut by a horse who isn’t anything special and then was put into Listed company and bolted up beating Athena, who won the Belmont Oaks. She won a second Listed contest last time out which earned her a place in the group one Irish Oaks where she bolted up. She is following a similar route into the race as Enable did last year as the older filly won the 2017 Irish Oaks and then went and won the Yorkshire Oaks. She won that race in brilliant style beating Coronet and Laurens. It is hard to compare the form of these two fillies so race times may be the way to go. This year, the Yorkshire Oaks was run in a time of two and a half minutes and when Enable won it, she did it in a time of two minutes and thirty five seconds on slower ground. Sea Of Class won the Irish Oaks in a time of 2m 32.54s and Enable won it in a time of 2m 32.13s. They are very closely matched so it may be a case of which horse will be best suited to the track. Sea Of Class is arguably drawn on the wrong side in fifteen but she is close to the likely pacesetter Nelson, who will make sure there is a good pace for his stable companions, so she could get a good trail in from him. Her jockey James Doyle will have pretty much starved himself over the past few days to get down to 8st9lbs to ride this filly and he will have to be careful not to let Enable get too much of a lead down the home straight.
The other two English runners are Defoe and Salouen. Defoe was second in a group one at Baden Baden last time out, he climbed from a mark of 88 in may 2017 to 117, which is his current mark. He landed a few group races at the beginning of the season. Beaten in another group one in May, it is questionable whether he has the class. Salouen has been a model of consistency all season and ran Cracksman to a head in a group one at the Derby meeting but was third behind Waldgeist in July so will need to step up.
Neufbosc has won twice over course and distance in Listed and group three company. He wasn’t beaten far last time out behind smart prospect Brundtland and Hunting Horn and ahead of Louis D’Or in a group two. He is yet to tackle a group one race but might out-run his odds. The latter hasn’t won since October 2017 and his best performance was finishing third, beaten less than a length and outrunning his odds, in the Prix Du Jockey Club. The winner of that race was Study Of Man. Based on that run, he looks overpriced at 33/1 but he has been well beaten on both starts since. If he rediscovers that form, he will be in the firing line. Patascoy was two lengths ahead of him last time out and a half length behind him the time before that. He can hold his own at group level and also looks overpriced at 50/1. Tiberian gets the services of Derby winning jockey William Buick fort his race. He is a multiple group race winner and beat Talismanic twice last season when he completed a double in May and did the same in August. He hasn’t replicated that form this season and he has been behind Waldgeist on two occasions. He’ll need to step up.
This looks a tight race and I think the top three in the market will most likely dominate proceedings. ENABLE and Sea Of Class are two incredible fillies but I think the former will prevail. She has a lot better draw and didn’t seem to have lost any of her sparkle on her reappearance so has a really good chance. Sea Of Class is a hold up horse and doesn’t have a brilliant draw so it will be a tough race for her. James Doyle will have to be at his best to land this race. If Frankie Dettori rides the race like he did last year, she will have to produce something special to catch Enable. Waldgeist is a name that has cropped up a lot in my research and he pretty much has the beating of all the French runners. I know some very shrewd judges who really fancy his chances. Kew Gardens will be staying on strongly at the finish as he has so much stamina.
1st – Enable
3rd– Sea Of Class
4th– Kew Gardens.