As the first weekend of October arrives, for racing fans that only mean one thing: A trip to Paris and to Longchamp for the Qatar Prix De L’ arc De Triomphe on Sunday.
This year’s edition of the second-richest turf race and a thoroughbred classic is poised to be a close affair. As we look at both the form guide and race history for clues in the French capital, who then are the contenders for Europe’s most prestigious all-aged horse race?
Luxembourg – 7/2
For the moment at least, Luxembourg looks the favourite at the off and for good reason.
Now in his sophomore season, the 3yo colt has failed to win on just one occasion in six outings since debuting at Killarney last July – coming third at Newmarket to eventual St. James’s Palace winner Coroebus and Native Trail back in April.
Back on home turf in his last two trips, Luxembourg won at both the Curragh and more recently in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown where he beat 9/1 shot here, Onesto, by half a length.
Ridden once more by Ryan Moore, a first contest on European soil might still prove a test, but this starlet will want to prove his credentials on the big stage once more after falling short at Royal Ascot this summer.
Alpinista – 11/2
The Irish colt will, however, be sorely tested by the currently unbeatable Alpinista.
Having won seven on the trot, Sir Mark Prescott’s 5yo may have only run twice this season but was hugely impressive in her last win in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor meeting, has already proved the mare’s notable Group 1 class.
A winner on French soil in July over 1m4f at Saint-Cloud, Alpinista is arguably more comfortable on foreign turf than native British going and that makes the mare an excellent punt at a very handy price with a jockey in Luke Morris, who is yet to taste defeat with his steed. Could be a blanket finisher.
*both Luxembourg and Alpinista are currently boosted at 4/1 and 6/1 respectively with SkyBet.
Torquator Tasso – 15/2
A horse beginning to shorten in the markets is the defending champion Torquator Tasso.
Having been on the receiving end of a sound beating from Alpinista by close to 3L on home turf at Hoppegarten, the German raider of the same age may only have the one win this term but has come runner-up on the last two occasions.
The latter of which – the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth back in June – saw the mount of Rene Piechulek come home behind a romping-home Pyledriver at a big 16/1 price. Preferring good to soft conditions, the French weather may play ball here.
There are three further omens for punters to consider also: The first of which being that in the past three years, a continental-bred horse has claimed the prize, whilst for further persuasion for Torquator Tasso to reach the winning post, in the past decade alone, both Treve and the magical Enable have retained their Arc crowns.
The third omen, perhaps most interestingly of all, Frankie Dettori will be on board. The leading jockey in this race and a six-time winner of the Arc, the veteran seeks number seven this weekend; his last two came with, none other, than Enable. Even with omens put to one side, do not write off the chances of another back-to-back Arc winner being etched.
Mishriff – 25/1
Looking further afield in the longer-priced names meanwhile, Mishriff looks a huge price to do well.
Trained by the three-time winning Gosdens – victorious with the documented Enable and also in 2015 with Golden Horn to go with his Derby win at Epsom the same year – despite going winless since last August and after coming flat last in the February’s Saudi Cup on the dirt, Mishriff’s form has been a general upward curve with a second, a third and another runners-up spot behind the indomitable Baaeed in the Juddmonte.
In his last outing at Leopardstown, the 5yo took fourth behind Luxembourg, Onesto and Vadeni – all rivals here – but has a finish in the locker. Will his flat speed be a factor here? Perhaps, but at a fairly hefty e/w price and with Will Buick at the reins, Mishriff could yet surprise.