Orfevre has to up his game

  • By: Richard Dunwoody
  • Last Updated: October 2 2012, 14:33 BST

I've spent quite a lot of time in France over the past couple of years, so I know what this Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe means to the French racing fans and with this year's contest looking one of the most open for a while then we can all look forward to what should be a must-see race.

Danedream: Has been ruled out of the Arc

Much of the focus would, of course, have be on last year's winner - Danedream - as she was hoping to become the first back-to-back Arc winner since Alleged achieved the double way back in 1977-78.

However, this week connections have been left bitterly disappointed as an outbreak of equine flu in Germany has meant last year's victor has been placed into quarantine and is now huge doubt to make the trip over to Longchamp for Sunday's race.

The German track where Danedream is based in Cologne has been shut down for three months after a horse tested positive for an equine blood infection - meaning all horses based there cannot now leave the track.

Colonge racecourse general manager Benedikt Fassbender told Press Association Sport: "It's a nightmare. We are the biggest training centre in Germany and one horse has tested positive for equine infectious anaemia (EIA).

"For three months we are now in quarantine - no horses can come in to the track, and no horses can come out.

"It is a disaster, especially as Danedream cannot take part in the Arc at the orders of the special vets.

"Danedream has not been infected by the disease, but every horse will be tested for the infection in the next few days."

Patrick Barbe, racing manager for Danedream's part-owner, Teruya Yoshida, said he was "very pessimistic" about Danedream being given clearance to compete in the Arc.

He said: "At the moment, Danedream is very well and has not been infected.

"The only horse who has been infected is on the other side of the racecourse to Danedream.

"Because the Arc is only now in a few days' time, I'm very pessimistic she will be allowed to run."

Her defection is truly sad for all involved, but this now means that a lot of other trainers and owners won't have last year's winner to beat and this had thrown the race wide open - until Nathaniel joined her on the missing list too!

Yes, John Gosden's charge looked to have every chance, especially with Danedream coming out a day earlier, but a bad blood test on Tuesday also ruled this year's Eclipse winner out.

Therefore, the horse that most of the bookmakers are now making favourite heading into Sunday is the Japanese-trained Orfevre. This 4 year-old came over to land the Prix Foy - a leading Arc trial - last month and on that form looks a strong player. He's already amassed a staggering £7.7 million in prize money and is another that has winning form on a variety of different ground.

That said, he looks a tad on the short side for me now, while it's worth pointing out there were only five runners in his recent Longchamp win. Yes, he's won races with 18 runners in before in his native land, but probably not against horses of this quality, so he'll need to step up again in my eyes, while it will be worth waiting to see what happens with the draw - a massive 9 of the last 10 winners hailed from stall 8 or lower.

Therefore, being drawn wide and having to either come around the whole field in the closing stages or tuck in from the off can have its disadvantages around the right-handed Longchamp track - the last horse to win from a double-figure berth was classy Dalakhani back in 2003.

Aidan O'Brien is sure to be mob-handed, as he looks to gain some compensation with Camelot after his shock St Leger defeat. 3 year-olds do have the best recent record in the race - winning 8 of the last 9 renewals - while recent English Derby winners, Sea The Stars and Workforce, showed that landing the Epsom Classic is a strong plus. He is, however, not a certain runner at this stage with connections set to make a decision on his participation later in the week, but there was a tiny bit of interest in him in the betting on Monday.

The other Ballydoyle big-gun will be St Nicholas Abbey, who was last seen running third behind Snow Fairy and Nathaniel in the Irish Champion Stakes. On that form he's got a bit to find, but you can expect the step back to 1m4f to help as he's look a tiny bit one-paced at this level in the past.

He was also third behind Frankel two runs ago in the Juddmonte International at York over 1m2f, and when you look at the way Sir Henry's horse disposed of him that day I guess it's just a shame that the world's highest-rated horse isn't having his swansong on Sunday - now that would be a fitting end to what's been an unbelievable career!

Finally, if you like your trends then here are the key ones ahead of Sunday's Arc.....

10/10 - Won a Group 1 race previously

9/10 - Won from stall 8 or lower

9/10 - Raced 4 or more times that season

8/10 - Returned 10/1 or shorter

8/10 - Won by a 3 years-old

8/10 - Won over 1m4f previously

8/10 - Won from stall 6 or lower

8/10 - Won over 1m4f previously

8/10 - Won their last race

8/10 - Won at least 5 times previously

8/10 - Returned 10/1 or shorter

8/10 - Won by a 3 years-old

7/10 - Had raced at Longchamp before

6/10 - Had won at Longchamp before

5/10 - Won by a French-based yard

5/10 - Favourites placed

4/10 - Raced at Longchamp last time out

3/10 - Favourites to win

2/10 - Female winners

2/10 - Trained by Andre Fabre

2/10 - Ridden by Kieren Fallon

2/10 - Won by a UK-based yard

The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 13/2

Trainer Andre Fabre has won the race 7 times

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