herald

Tuesday 14 August 2018

O'Brien's ace looks so solid to be Arc five-star

Sunday's showdown the perfect stage for Think to halt domination of three-year-olds

SUNDAY'S Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is one of the highlights of the racing calendar and certainly high in the ranking of Europe's top races.

The 1m4f Longchamp Group One has proved a happy haunt for three-year-olds in the past 25 years.

Most notably the likes of Sea The Stars, Sinndar, Montjeu, and Dancing Brave were some of those in their so-called 'Classic season' to polish it off in style in France.

Aidan O'Brien's only ever winner in the race was back in 2007 when Dylan Thomas became the first horse beyond three since 2002 to win the race and not one has followed in the years since.



BRACKET

Statistics, for those who swear by them, are even less encouraging for five-year-olds, with only a couple of winners in that bracket in the past quarter of a century.

Marinebird was Frankie Dettori's last win in the race in 2002 as a five-year-old while prior to that you've to go all the way back to Tony Bin in 1988.

The betting side of this year's race has been intriguing. Alain De Royer-Dupre's course and distance winner Sarafina has been the antepost favourite since her trial win earlier this month and has proved hard to shift from that pedestal.

She is a four-year-old looking to buck a trend, while her nearest rival is the five-year-old powerhouse So You Think, who is not only trying to re-write the history books for five-year-olds in the race but also silence those who doubt his ability to stay the 1m4f.

So You Think's price drifted out on Betfair in midweek, albeit for small money, leading some to think that he would not be in Paris on Sunday to take his chance, but that has settled again now and it appears all systems go.

Ryan Moore returned to competitive race riding today in order to be fit and well enough to renew his partnership with Workforce, last year's winner.

However, yesterday evening, rumours began to develop, with doubts over his participation due to the ground and therefore the possibility of Ryan Moore being free to ride for Ballydoyle if required.

That rumour looks a dead duck now though as Workforce is declared and he will ensure further interest in the race.

Sensational mare Goldikova will be in action on Arc day, but her half sister Galikova is well touted for big race glory this weekend and adds further spice to an already quite tasty renewal, while Ed Dunlop's Snow Fairy remains one of the biggest losers for most bookmakers after she proved extremely popular in the last week or so.



3Verdict

Certainly one of the most difficult races to call in some time, this year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has 16 runners and very strong cases can be made for at least 11 of them.

Three-year-olds will be favoured by those who read deep into their stats, but they are there to be broken and the three-year-old domination may well come to an end by a five-year-old who is unlike much we have seen here for some time -- So You Think.

The five-year-old will not only be stopping the run of three-year-old winners, but So You Think will be proving his doubters wrong about the trip.

And trained by the genius that is Aidan O'Brien, So You Think is worth watching as he delivers his challenge -- hopefully a challenge which will be a winning one.

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