Every year, there’s a buzz around the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe that is tough to describe.
Boil the race down and it’s a 1m4f European Group 1, the same type of race we see at the big racing festivals throughout the Flat season.
But the Arc is so much more than that; there’s history, nearly £4.5 million in prize money, and an international interest that attracts horses from the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, and even Japan.
This year’s race looks wide open, and I’ll discuss my fancy in a bonus BestofBets.com column tomorrow, but as for today, there are three horses that I want to be with on Saturday from both Newmarket and Longchamp.
With good ground expected at both tracks, let’s begin.
2:25 Newmarket: Sacred Angel @ 9/2 General – 2pt Win
My interest in this year’s Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes took a hit yesterday when the news came out about Relief Rally’s lack of involvement due to a dirty scope.
🚨 Cheveley Park Stakes favourite Relief Rally is a non-runner due to a bad scope pic.twitter.com/Xh5ZIKKTlz
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) September 29, 2023
As much as the news was sad, my second look at the fillies-only six-furlong contest saw me land on Sacred Angel for Charlie Johnston and James Doyle.
The Dark Angel filly has raced four times for the Middleham-based yard, winning two of them in commanding fashion from a prominent position.
The first of these victories came on the Newmarket July Course when a dominant winner of a six-furlong maiden on good to firm ground; she beat Ornellaia (3rd) that day, a horse who won at Glorious Goodwood, finished second in a Group 2 in Deauville, and third in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes since.
Despite the manner of her win, she rocked up to the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes in July as a 16/1-shot and blew the field apart under Jason Hart.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) July 29, 2023
On collateral form, she put four-and-a-quarter lengths between herself and Symbology who went on to finish a length-and-a-quarter behind Relief Rally in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes next time out.
Following that victory, connections sent her against the colts in the Group 1 Morny on her first start in softer conditions; despite the slow surface, she showed great character to finish fourth behind Vandeek, Ramatuelle, and River Tiber, potentially some of the most exciting juveniles in the division.
Today, she has a low draw to overcome which could hinder her chances, but her ability is apparent and 5/1 is a fair price for Sacred Angel in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes.
3:00 Newmarket: Vandeek @ 13/8 with William Hill – 3pt Win
If I’m a fan of Sacred Angel in the proceeding race then I can’t let Vandeek go off unmentioned in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes.
The Simon & Ed Crisford-trained two-year-old is three from three this year, a run that includes the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville last time out.
Of the two, his performance in the Group 1 contest impressed me the most as the ground was officially described as very soft, yet Andrea Atzeni still rode a calm race from the rear of the pack and bided his time.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) August 20, 2023
This paid off as the beautiful mover cruised into the contest behind the well-backed Ramatuelle and just did enough in time to get up on the line.
That run completed a hat-trick of wins in softer conditions, though a look through his pedigree suggests that better ground could see him improve further.
By Havana Grey, a sire who has seen the majority of his offspring race successfully on good or better ground, his Mukhadram half-brother, Mine’s A Double, won three times in a row on good to firm ground, so that offers hope to the idea that he can handle a quicker surface.
In what is a competitive race that could see the likes of Task Force and Lake Forest outperform their odds, Vandeek is a worthy favourite and should be respected.
4:08 Longchamp: Embesto @ 6/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW
It really is a shame that Roaring Lion is no longer around to continue what should have been a long and fruitful stallion career because this year has been a standout year for his progeny.
Running Lion, Saint George, and Valiant King have all performed to great ability over the summer without landing a Group-level race, something that Embesto has achieved.
The Roger Varian-trained three-year-old dead-heated with Mighty Ulysses last time out in the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes when showing plenty of promise; Mighty Ulysses is a hardy colt for John & Thady Gosden who finished a close fifth in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes behind Coroebus in 2022 and even beat Alflaila, a horse who would go on to win four races in a row, by just over a length in the Listed Pomfret Stakes.
👀 Dead heat in the @Tattersalls1766 Sovereign Stakes!
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 17, 2023
Furthermore, Regal Reality crossed the line in third that day and has since finished a staying-on second to Mutasaabeq in the Group 2 Joel Stakes yesterday.
On that form, he requires respect and he is one of the few in this field that prefers better ground unlike some of the market principles ahead of him.
Admittedly, Isaac Shelby could show us all what he promised in defeat to the likes of Kinross and Paddington this season, but on the chance that he doesn’t appreciate the ground, the each-way angle of Embesto intrigues me at 6/1.