O'Brien unconcerned by Arc ground
View from connections ahead of Sunday's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
- Related Content
Aidan O'Brien feels soft ground will hold no fears for Ruler Of The World and Leading Light in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Heavy rain on Thursday night turned the ground soft and the jockeys riding there on Saturday reported the going to be fairly testing, although the weather appears set fair for the rest of the weekend.
O'Brien's pair are both available at double-figure prices, despite faring well at the draw with single-figure stalls and each of them has already won a Classic this season, with Ruler Of The World landing the Investec Derby and Leading Light the Ladbrokes St Leger.
Ruler Of The World bounced back from a disappointing run in the Irish Derby to be beaten a short-head by the Japanese Derby winner Kizuna in the Prix Niel, while Leading Light faces another drop back in trip after winning over two miles at Royal Ascot.
"Both of them are in good form and seem to be fine after their last runs," said O'Brien, who has booked Gerald Mosse for Leading Light with Ryan Moore on Ruler Of The World.
"I think the lads (owners John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor) always had one eye on him (Leading Light) with regards to the Arc but he was pointed at Ascot first and then Doncaster and then they waited to see what happened, but I think it was always on their minds.
"His two runs before Ascot were over a mile and a quarter, he was a Group winner over that trip before Ascot, then won over two miles at Ascot and came back to a mile and six at Doncaster, so it's a gradual progression back (in trip).
"We're very happy with Ruler Of The World. He was just back after a break (in the Niel) and Ryan was very happy and learned a lot about him. It can get rough at Longchamp and he will have learned he's happy to be in there.
"I don't think either of them will mind the ground, both of them have form on easy ground."
Criquette Head-Maarek insists that stall 15 will be "no problem" for Treve as the unbeaten filly bids to beat the statistics.
Winner of the French Oaks and the Prix Vermeille already this season, Treve impressed many with her smart change of gear under Frankie Dettori to win her trial impressively, suggesting she would be a major player in the Arc, especially given the allowance for a three-year-old filly.
Her chances had already been dealt one apparent blow on Wednesday when Dettori, retained rider for owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, fractured an ankle at Nottingham, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Head-Maarek moved swiftly to reunite Thierry Jarnet with Treve so is unconcerned on that score - and also believes talk about the importance of a low draw is overplayed.
"The draw is no problem," said the Chantilly trainer. "There are good horses everywhere and there are bad horses everywhere, the best horse will win.
"At this distance all the talk about the draw is crazy. I could understand it if the race was over a mile at Longchamp but over 2,400 metres? Give me a break.
"My filly needs to be behind horses anyway, that is how she runs. The best horse will win, we won't use the draw as an excuse.
"In our case it could have been worse if we were drawn on the inside anyway because of her style. As long as there is pace in the race there should be no problems and there usually is when the foreign horses run.
"The new jockey will make no difference to the filly but it does to Frankie. It is unfortunate that he got a bad injury doing his job. Jarnet knows her well, he rode all the time in the beginning. The best horse will win, I'm sure of that."
Orfevre's trainer Yasutoshi Ikee wants to "set the record straight" for last year's runner-up, who collided with a rail after streaking to the front.
Ikee admits that Orfevre, who has been drawn in stall eight, can be his own worst enemy at times, but he has been delighted with his charge since his easy victory in the Prix Foy.
"His preparation has gone very well. It was a serious workout (on Wednesday) and he came through without hesitation and once he was in front, he finished well," said Ikee.
"Naturally (he can be his own worst enemy). There's some very good horses in the race but we know when he works well and if everything goes well on Sunday, I think he can win.
"I really thought we would have won last year, I was very disappointed. Orfevre had a relapse that day but I really hope he can give the Japanese fans something to cheer on Sunday. I want to set the record straight."
There is a strong second string to the Far East challenge with the Japanese Derby winner, Kizuna, a son of Deep Impact, well fancied after holding off the Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World in the Prix Niel.
Andre Fabre is responsible for five of the 18-runner field, with his Prix du Jockey Club winner Intello (stall nine) his best hope, according to the bookmakers.
Flintshire (seven), Ocovango (13), Godolphin's Penglai Pavilion (10) and Pirika (three) complete Fabre's nap hand of runners.
"I think the ground will be good to soft come Sunday which Flintshire should be able to handle," said Fabre on Friday. "I've been very happy with him and as for the draw, I always think that is only a problem if there is no pace.
"I'm hoping for a good pace, then there will be no problems. For instance, horses like Ocovango and Penglai Pavilion are strong gallopers so they are likely to be going forward.
"A strong pace may help Intello but we've never had a problem with him settling. He's a very handy horse - he's like a polo pony."
Flintshire headed the ante-post market after his impressive success in the Grand Prix de Paris but was only fourth in the Niel on soft ground.
Conditions are again a concern for the Andre Fabre-trained colt, with Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, saying on Saturday: "He needs it to dry out, I don't think there's any secret about that. We certainly don't want any more rain. Other than that, the horse is fine."
When asked which of his five runners held the best claims, Fabre said: "Everybody knows the ratings of the horses, far better than I do, and in a race like the Arc the ratings are key."
Intello will be partnered by Olivier Peslier in his role as retained rider to the owners, the Wertheimer brothers, and he will be looking for back-to-back Arcs after his shock win on Solemia.
Al Kazeem is flying the flag for Britain in Sunday's race but Roger Charlton's stable star was dealt a cruel blow at the draw when he was handed stall 18.
Statistics show that a single-figure draw increases a runner's chances in Europe's premier middle-distance Flat race, although Orfevre was a close second from the same berth 12 months ago.
Earlier in the season Al Kazeem was the ante-post favourite for the race after Group One wins in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, the Prince of Wales's Stakes and the Eclipse but subsequent defeats at York and Leopardstown mean he is available at an each-way price.
Charlton feels he has been quickly forgotten by punters, however, and recent rain at Longchamp at least means he is likely to have conditions in his favour for the first time in a long while.
"There's not much we can do about the draw," said Charlton. "At least we've had the rain, though I think it will dry to good to soft by Sunday, so there'll be no excuses on that front, but the draw makes it difficult.
"If he hadn't run at York and if we'd considered Leopardstown as something of his prep race for this he would be much shorter in the betting.
"On ratings he's classed to be within two to three lengths of the favourites which isn't a lot to make up over a mile and a half but obviously we haven't been helped by the draw. I'm optimistic that he'll run very well, but he might need more.
"He was favourite for the race after the Eclipse and people tend to build things up and then get very disappointed when they are beaten. There are reasons why he was beaten at York. It's a great race and I'm looking forward to it."