Kew Gardens can take advantage of the weight-for-age allowance and win Europe’s richest race on Sunday. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the all-aged middle distance championship but fillies and horses aged three receive weight from the male and older horses. Enable carried up to 10 pounds less than her opponents when winning the race last season and is the clear favourite to win the Arc again at Longchamp this weekend.
The Arc is a Group 1 race for colts and fillies aged three and older and the distance is one mile and four furlongs. It has been run at Chantilly for the last two years but now returns to the redeveloped Longchamp, near Paris. The ticket prices have gone up but there will still be a big influx of racing fans from Britain and Ireland. There is also often a healthy contingent from Japan as that country is obsessed about winning the Arc. Clincher (66/1) is the only Japan trained runner in the field this time.
The Arc has been called more than a race but a monument by French racing authorities and it is named after the famous statue in Paris. It is the most prestigious Flat race in Europe and brings together the best of the Classic generation and older horses. The Classic form is represented by Kew Gardens who won the St Leger at Doncaster last month. Dee Ex Bee, second in the Derby, and the Oaks winner, Forever Together, need to be supplemented but that is unlikely.
Seven horses have won two Arcs but there has not been a three-time winner. Treve won the race in 2013 and 2014 but was un unplaced the following year. The horse received the fillies and age allowance in 2013 and the sex allowance the following year. Enable won the Arc as a filly aged three last season but only gets three pounds off the male horses this time. As a colt aged three Kew Gardens carries six pounds less than the male horses aged four and older. That concession could be crucial.
Kew Gardens is trained by Aidan O’Brien who could have at least five runners in Sunday’s race. His Forever Together gets both allowances but won’t run it appears but a late decision could see the filly take her chance. O’Brien has trained two Arc winners so is five behind Andre Fabre who is the leading trainer. Fabre has three likely runners in this year’s Arc and Waldgeist has been well backed this week. Frankie Dettori is the leading jockey with five wins and rides Enable again this time. The leading owner has won six Arcs but the latest was in 1949.
The draw is important in the Arc but at the time of writing the stalls positions had not been decided. Of the 13 last Longchamp Arcs run on good or good to soft ground 11 were won by horses drawn six or lower. Out of the 39 placed horses in those races eight ran from stall 10 or higher. Paris has had a dry spell and the track could be watered with the objective of producing good ground. There have been problems with the turf but watering can produce the desired ground which could be leaning towards soft but no worse than good. Enable prefers fast ground but Sea Of Class is a better horse when it is soft.
The form shown by Kew Gardens is not particularly ground dependent. The horse won the St Leger on good ground and at Royal Ascot when it was good to firm. Horses aged three have won 11 of the last 15 Arcs with the weight allowance influencing the result. Kew Gardens has won a Classic this season and can beat the older colts and fillies in the Arc this weekend.