Matt Brocklebank takes an early look at the betting for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and finds two attractive bets at 20/1 and 25/1.
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Sea Of Class seemingly has everything going for her five weeks away from the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
William Haggas’ filly oozes quality, she's fast, she stays, and she's on a steep upward curve having thrashed Coronet to claim her second Group One victory in the Yorkshire Oaks. And she's bred for the job being sired by 2009 Arc winner Sea The Stars.
She seems to enjoy a period of around a month between her races, having tracked that path since her neck second on debut at Newmarket back in April, so a break of 45 is absolutely ideal.
Sea Of Class is also a three-year-old filly. And history tells us that fillies, and three-year-olds, have a brilliant record in the big one at Longchamp on the first Sunday in October.
The fairer sex have claimed Arc victory in six of the past 10 renewals, while only Derby winners Sea The Stars, Workforce and Golden Horn have been able to strike for the males in that same period - Solemia, Treve and Found the fillies to have won it aged four.
The two potential negatives when it comes to Sea Of Class have nothing to do with her ability and they are the potential for soft ground, which has to be a consideration despite the Arc being run on good or better ground in recent seasons, and her hold-up style.
She’s never been risked on easy going, the four straight wins in the build-up all on Good to Firm after her defeat in the spring at headquarters on Good.
As for the tactics, Sea Of Class’s sire is proof that the best horse will often find a way to win no matter how many horses are in front of them turning in at Longchamp, but there are countless examples of luckless runs too, and it would be a surprise to see James Doyle ride her any more handily just to negate the possibility of trouble.
She isn’t the only exciting three-year-old filly heading that way, with Lah Ti Dar’s Galtres Stakes win immediately putting her into a similar bracket.
Her bare form is not in the same league as Sea Of Class yet, but she’s always been considered John Gosden’s top three-year-old female of 2018 and the daughter of Dubawi is entitled to keep improving with racing.
The Arc would represent a massive task for Lah Ti Dar. After just four career starts – she is due to prep in the Prix Vermeille - there must be a slight concern that the race will come too soon in her development.
It's less of a concern for fellow young filly FOREVER TOGETHER (25/1, General), who has surely earned a supplementary entry having gone down by just a neck to Sea Of Class in the Irish Oaks on her sixth career outing.
She was dead impressive when slamming Wild Illusion in the Investec Oaks at Epsom on soft ground in June and, like several from Aidan O’Brien’s yard, may just have been under a little bit of a cloud physically when she ran twice in July.
If that’s the case then her hard-fought neck second to cosy winner Sea Of Class at the Curragh represents a fantastic effort and, given her proven stamina, if given the go-ahead she’s likely to be quite forcefully ridden which can play to her strengths if there is scrimmaging in behind.
The O'Brien challenge doesn't look red hot at first glance, with Hydrangea and Cliffs Of Moher proving disappointing, and question marks over Idaho and Capri. Order Of St George is on the down-low currently and Kew Gardens is being aimed at Doncaster, which leads me to believe Forever Together and Magic Wand both may receive call-ups closer to the race.
It's not like the supplementary fees are even a consideration and as the hype around Sea Of Class builds, the team at Ballydoyle in all likelihood won't be able to resist having another crack at the favourite with a Galileo filly who should have further improvement in her.
The neck verdict over Forever Together in the Irish Oaks obviously doesn't do Sea Of Class justice but it wouldn't be a surprise to see O'Brien's horses really go up a notch heading into the autumn and the trainer hasn't been afraid to throw three-year-year-old fillies at the Arc in the past.
Remarkably he's never won the race with a three-year-old but Found ran an eyecatching race when ninth towards the end of her Classic campaign (the year before winning it) and at five times the price of Sea Of Class, Forever Together rates standout value.
As for some of the other the older horses in line for the Arc, reigning champ Enable could blow the young pretenders out of the water if resuming where she left off.
The problem is it was the Arc last year when she signed off and her proposed return has been put back from the Juddmonte International, to the Yorkshire Oaks, and now to Kempton and the September Stakes – a race that Gosden used for Jack Hobbs’ odds-on return three years ago.
Enable is the one with potential to make her current price (5/1) look ridiculous, but she clearly comes with risks attached and it’s certainly tempting to cast the net wider at those odds.
King George one-two Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean are overlooked on account of their dubious participation, as is Cracksman who looks to be homing in on a return to the QIPCO Champion Stakes where he was so dominant last October.
The aforementioned Capri is another older horse who may well throw his name into the hat in the coming weeks, as is Andre Fabre’s Breeders’ Cup Turf hero Talismanic, though his stamina for a stiff mile and a half on testing ground is more than a little questionable.
Fabre’s main hope this year looks to be Waldgeist, which had become something of a dirty word on these shores last summer following a limp run in the Irish Derby, and an even lesser effort in a Group Three at Ascot.
But the master Fabre has worked his magic with the son of Galileo this term, winning three times since his comeback and recording his first Group One triumph since his two-year-old days when edging out Coronet in a head-bobber for the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
He was conceding 3lb that day and the runner-up has since been third in the King George and second when giving 9lb to Sea Of Class at York.
That strictly brings Waldgeist into the frame, but lumping 10lb more than Sea Of Class and Forever Together in an Arc tempers enthusiasm for him, which brings us back to the original point of Derby winners.
The Derby winner isn’t in training at this stage, sadly, but the QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club (often referred to as the French Derby) winner is and STUDY OF MAN completes the staking plan at a general price of 20/1.
Pascal Bary has hailed this horse as a champion since the start of his career and the trainer was in bits at the post-race press conference following the colt’s Chantilly victory on June 3.
The decision to run on home soil when Epsom the day before was being seriously considered was totally vindicated, after which Bary explained that he didn’t want to place too much emphasis on stamina at such an early stage.
However, the Arc has always been mentioned as the end-game for the son of Deep Impact and I wouldn’t read too much into the horse’s subsequent third when favourite for a Group Two at Deauville in mid-August.
Connections have been working back from the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes for several weeks now and it will be fascinating to see whether his wicked turn of foot is fully operational again around Leopardstown.
Anything like a prominent showing in that race, where he could face Roaring Lion, as well as Saxon Warrior and Capri and possibly even Cracksman, would enhance his Arc credentials no end.
As for the step up to a mile and a half, there is nothing in his pedigree to suggest Study Of Man wants anything further than 10 furlongs.
However, those closest to him are adamant the trip won’t beat him at Longchamp and the significant burst of pace he possesses would be a massive weapon if unleashed at the right time.
Backing the two highlighted three-year-olds before the Arc market undergoes another major upheaval over trials weekend (September 15-16) rates the most appealing approach at this point in time.
"I think over 2,400 metres (a mile and a half) with a decent pace he could be ridden more quietly, which would give him a better chance to produce that acceleration of his."
Jockey Stephane Pasquier on Study Of Man (June 3)
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