Alex Hammond reflects on the Arc and has weekend tips

Alex Hammond brings you her tips for this weekend's racing
Alex Hammond brings you her tips for this weekend's racing

Our columnist reflects on all last week's drama at ParisLongchamp and has her best bets for the weekend - including a 20/1 fancy in the Cesarewitch.

What did you make of Sunday’s dramatic Arc finish and where does Enable now stand in the pantheon of greats?

It was a real heavyweight clash wasn’t it and you have to feel so sorry for connections of the runner up Sea Of Class; not least her jockey James Doyle who had put himself on a strict(er) diet to lose none existent weight to get down to the required 8 stone 9lbs. The sort of willpower that only the prospect of a potential Arc win or impending beach holiday can motivate and most of us can only dream of.

ENABLE, LE DOUBLÉ ! | Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2018

It very nearly came off and if it hadn’t been for that dreadful wide draw in 15 his effort could have been worth it. He spoke eloquently in the following days about the defeat and all credit to him for being a superb ambassador for our sport. The draw definitely beat her, the bias at ParisLongchamp is well documented, so a real sickener for her connections. There’s always next year.

As for Enable, it could easily have been John Gosden’s outstanding filly we were making understandable excuses for after such a troubled preparation for the great race. Her trainer said after her tenacious win that she was only 85% right and it was her mental fortitude that got her through. She only had the benefit of a stroll around on the all-weather a month before and I’m not sure there has ever been an Arc prep like it. When Enable won the race in 2017 she marked herself out as a thoroughbred of the highest order, her win on Sunday showed she has great courage to go with that ability. Great she is and a great she will remain.

What else stood out for you on a fantastic weekend at ParisLongchamp?

On Saturday it was the continued progression of Ostilio. Simon Crisford’s three-year-old is improving and took the step up to Group Two company in his stride to win the Prix Daniel Wildenstein. It’s a shame my selection Addeybb didn’t run, but Ostilio is one to keep on the right side of and is a lovely prospect for next year.

On Sunday, away from the Arc, it has to be Mabs Cross. Her win the Prix de l’Abbaye provided some compensation for her agonising defeat in York’s Coolmore Nunthorpe in August when she was beaten by the width of a piece of tracing paper by Alpha Delphini. The exciting thing about Mabs Cross is that she is still only four and in sprinting terms that makes her a wee nipper. She is sure to be better with another winter under her belt and it was an inspired move to book veteran French jockey Gerald Mosse for the ride in the absence of injured duo Paul Mulrennan and Tom Eaves. Mosse has lost none of his enthusiasm, athleticism or skill and knows ParisLongchamp like the back of his hand.

Mabs Cross wins the Prix de l'Abbaye
Mabs Cross wins the Prix de l'Abbaye

Laurens is an intended runner in the QEII - can anything stop her notching a SIXTH Group One win?

It’s great to hear Karl Burke is keen on supplementing her for the QEII as the drop back to a mile has really suited her. Can you believe she has won five Group Ones and yet you still feel she hasn’t quite captured the hearts of the nation? What a filly she is and like Enable she has guts to go along with a powerful V8 engine under that substantial bonnet.

Laurens wins the Sun Chariot
Laurens wins the Sun Chariot

It didn’t look like she would have an easy task in the Sun Chariot last Saturday with Wind Chimes on paper looking a tough opponent, but she ground it out to beat Happily in typically game fashion. It will be interesting to see if owner John Dance then takes a gamble and runs at the Breeders’ Cup, where the mile (against the colts) and Fillies and Mares (over ten furlongs) would be her options. I’d be inclined to stick against her own sex if they do go to Churchill Downs, but the temptation must be to take on the boys.

Is Too Darn Hot the proverbial ‘good thing’ in Saturday’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes?

I don’t think it’s definitely a foregone conclusion, but he looks the most obvious winner. He’s 10/11 favourite with Sky Bet and at that price I’d be happy to watch him run and wouldn’t be against an each-way bet on Advertise at 13/2 (shortened from 8s as I was writing this article!).

Advertise (left) wins the July Stakes
Advertise (left) - looks the each-way value in the Dewhurst

I interviewed his trainer Martyn Meade after he won the July Stakes at Newmarket and was struck by how enthusiastic he was about the colt (whose only defeat came when second to Calyx in the Coventry at Royal Ascot). He backed that up with a win in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August where it was felt the step up to Saturday’s trip of seven furlongs would suit. He has to prove he’s in the same class as the favourite, but could easily run into a place with man of the moment Oisin Murphy in the saddle.

Where does the each-way value lie in the Cesarewitch?

There are a host of horses that I’m loath to let run without supporting financially in this. There has been plenty of that for Vis A Vis this week and he’s now 10/1 with Sky Bet. He’s won both his outings since joining Neil Mulholland from France and is still unexposed; champion jockey elect Silvestre de Sousa has been booked to ride.

However Willie Mullins must be odds on to win the race...He has Stratum who was unlucky in the Sky Bet Ebor and is currently the 6/1 favourite, Limini (12/1), Low Sun (12s), Uradel (14/1) and others at bigger prices. It will be interesting to see what lines up for him.

Stratum - ante-post favourite for the Sky Bet Ebor
Stratum - leads strong Willie Mullins challenge

Predominantly involved in the National Hunt game, trainer Ian Williams is also making a habit of winning decent Flat races with Magic Circle flying the flag for the stable this year. He has STARS OVER THE SEA in the race. He is a 20/1 shot to follow up his romp in the trial for this and is only burdened with a 4lb penalty for that victory. He’s on my short list, although he is unlikely to be allowed to dominate this from the front as he did last time out.

What about the Flat trainers then?

Could it be an Autumn Double for dream team John Gosden and Frankie Dettori? I was delighted to see Wissahickon win the Cambridgeshire and the duo have Precious Ramotswe in here. She a 25/1 shot but not completely out of it. She is yet to run beyond a mile and six though so her ability to stay two-and-a-quarter miles has to be taken on trust. She’s got some class if she settles though.

As you know, I fancied Southern France for the St Leger and Aidan O’Brien’s colt ran well to finish third behind stablemate Kew Gardens. He looks a ready-made Cup horse for next season and would be interesting in this line up off a mark of 107. He’s also entered for the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on QIPCO Champions Day later this month.

I’ve backed Stars Over The Sea each way and hope he gives me a decent run for my money.


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