Weekend in review: Longchamp
The Sportinglife racing team take a look back at Longchamp and what we learnt from a top-class weekend of action. (Will Hayler - WH, Dave Ord - DO, Ben Linfoot - BL, Ian Ogg - IO)
- Related Content
1) So. Treve. How good was that?
WH: It's not unusual for the Arc to produce results where one horse crushes their rivals, but it's hard to remember seeing that sort of one-sided contest in a race that had looked so competitive beforehand on paper. And for those who feel the need to try and put a number on every performance, it was the right horses who finished in behind - a long way behind.
DO: One word - remarkable. As we expected she was keen through the early stages and became lit up when a buzzed-up Al Kazeem bumped her. She saw plenty of daylight on the outside of the field but put all that aside to run out one of the most impressive winners of the race in recent times. Her startling turn of foot put the race to bed two out and in slamming Orfevre and Intello she justified the considerable hype that had been building since her win in the Vermeille.
BL: One of the best we've ever seen. She was on her toes, sweated profusely, got no cover from her wide draw and was keen. But then she accelerated away from them like everything had gone perfectly. It was an astonishing burst of speed all things considered. She ran the last 600m quicker than Maarek did in the Abbaye and Moonlight Cloud in the Foret. The form, with Orfevre, Intello and Kizuna filling the next three places, looks rock solid. I can't wait to see her again - bravo to connections for keeping her in training.
IO: I can only echo what my colleagues have said. Her change of pace and the way that she saw out the race were all the more impressive given how freely she had raced early on. Orfevre had moved with similar purpose 12 months previously until pulling himself up in front but he was made to look relatively ordinary and the form has a very solid look.
2) Orfevre finished runner-up in his two Arcs but can Treve become the seventh dual winner?
WH: Those looking for chinks in her armour might find comfort in her breeding (her sire Motivator gradually lost the plot in the latter stages of his career) and the fact that she won't get anywhere near the same weight advantages in 12 months' time.
DO: The 2012 race was 'the one that got away' for the Japanese brute. He's a top-quality performer but increasing evidence is you have to win the Arc at the first attempt. It isn't kind to those who come back for second or third dances and 12 months is a long time in racing. As for Treve, she looks an absolute top-notcher and if she can get anywhere near the level she was on Sunday she'd obviously be hard to beat.
BL: With Sunday's romp fresh in the mind it's hard to envisage anything beating her anytime soon, but who knows what next year's crop of three-year-olds will bring? History says it will be very difficult for her, but she is a very special filly. All in all, this fence I'm sitting on is quite comfy.
IO: The fact that she has been a relatively late developer offers hope that there could be even more to come but winning two Arcs has proved beyond the likes of Hurricane Run and Montjeu and you'd have to look to take her on.
3) What else can we take out of the Arc?
WH: Ruler Of The World didn't run a bad race and it's too soon to give up on his chances of winning another Group One. He was clearly unsuited by the slowish early gallop and you can see Ballydoyle shovelling in the pacemakers to help him out in something like next year's Coronation Cup [where the track obviously won't worry him].
DO: As well as being a genius with his horses, Andre Fabre is a decent tipster too, insisting all along that Intello was the pick of his Arc team. He ran well in third but the whole episode again goes to prove if a trainer thinks they have four Arc horses, they probably don't have the winner among them. Not a thing went right for Leading Light from the moment the stalls opened. Forgive him this. He's a huge player in the big staying prizes next term.
BL: Very little really. Intello and Al Kazeem ran good races in defeat but they're both off to stud. Flintshire ran okay on ground that wouldn't suit, so if he stays in training he could be one to keep an eye on next year.
IO: The performance of Flintshire on ground that connections had always feared was against him, a view backed up by his run in the Prix Niel. The form of his Group One win in the Grand Prix de Paris has taken more knocks than a coconut shy but he looked very, very good on that occasion. He's by a sire whose progeny often improve with age and, back on a faster surface, he can confirm that he's a genuine top-flight performer.
4) Anything else to note from Sunday's action?
WH: Once again the draw proved a major factor in the Abbaye, as did the [poor, with hindsight] decision of jockey Francois-Xavier Bertras to kick on at the furlong-pole aboard Catcall. I can't remember seeing many Abbaye runners travel as strongly as he did for the first 90 per cent of the race and Catcall is an interesting horse. There's probably no way to make any money out of him now this season, but compatriot Myasun was set an impossible task up the middle of the course in the same race and also went into my notebook. As for the two-year-olds, Sandiva quite patently failed to stay a mile in the Boussac but had her previous six-length defeat of Stromyra at Deauville franked as that filly was beaten just a couple of lengths into fifth in the same race. Enfuriating. And as for Moonlight Cloud, words simply fail me. Wow.
DO: Reckless Abandon ran a cracker from a bad draw in the Abbaye and if the wheels stay on in 2014, he'll be a sprinter to reckon with. Sandiva has to be better than her run in the Marcel Boussac where trip and ground both seemed to find her out. She was six lengths in front of fifth home Stormyra at Deauville last time and two lengths adrift of her here. Moonlight Cloud's burst of speed in the Foret was truly breathtaking. I hope she heads to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup, though that looks unlikely now. She's one of the most talented mares of recent years and deserves another day in the sun at a major global meeting.
BL: I thought Royalmania ran a hugely eye-catching race in the Prix Marcel Boussac. She couldn't stay with them in the early stages and was detached in last turning for home. But she finished her race really well to finish a close fourth and on better ground with a bit more experience under her belt I think she could be another serious filly for Freddie Head.
IO: Like Mr Ord, I thought it was a decent run from Reckless Abandon on his first attempt on soft ground and he could dominate the sprinting division if connections can iron out his tendency to hang. As far as the juvenile contests were concerned, it was more about who wasn't there with Indonesienne franking Miss France's win while I didn't feel that Barley Mow's performance did anything to detract from the impression that Be Ready created when slamming him at Doncaster.
5) Cirrus des Aigles is the favourite for the QIPCO Champion Stakes again. Are you a believer? Or does something else in the race take your eye?
WH: It rather depends on the ground, doesn't it? In conditions deemed 'tres souple', CDA was like a pig in the proverbial. On a quicker surface, would he really have the same toe as, say, Sky Lantern?
DO: Richard Hannon Junior seemed to suggest the ground won't be right for Sky Lantern and that would also take The Fugue out of the equation. Declaration Of War is a big player but also has the Breeders' Cup on his agenda and I just wonder if Hillstar is overpriced at 33/1. He has had a progressive season and was reportedly very impressive in a spin on the Limekilns under Ryan Moore last week. At a track where he has excelled in the past, with a win on soft ground under his belt and freshened up since August, 33/1 makes each-way appeal at the moment. Cirrus Des Aigles was undeniably impressive at the weekend and his confidence has returned but he is very, very ground dependent and I far from convinced he's back to his imperious best.
BL: He looked back to his best didn't he? I do enjoy a top-form Cirrus in full flow. Soft ground looks an absolute pre-requisite for him, though, and I'm not convinced he beat anything of note in the Dollar. The Champion Stakes will be a much tougher test against faster horses and I certainly wouldn't be backing him at around 7/2, though at least we know he will be there with some of his market rivals potential absentees due to autumn ground and/or the Breeders' Cup.
IO: It was a pleasure to see him back at the top of his game and he's holding his form remarkably well despite his advancing years. However, that had been in doubt until Saturday's performance and I'd be keen to try and find something to take him on with. Toronado's run at York was too bad to be true and he would have to be of interest if turning up here rather than the QEII while Mukhadram has a very solid profile and has been freshened up since the Sky Bet York Stakes. He looks a reasonable each-way play at this stage.