Matt Brocklebank looks ahead to the 2021 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and fancies Japan's long wait for a first success in the great race to be realised.
1pt e.w. Chrono Genesis in Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at 16/1 (Sky Bet, bet365 1/5 1,2,3)
The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe remains one of the most coveted prizes in Japanese racing and CHRONO GENESIS looks capable of a bold bid to finally quench that thirst in Paris on October 3.
It wasn't until El Condor Pasa finished second to Montjeu in 1999 that one of racing’s global powerhouses really started to take a major interest in the premier middle-distance race in Europe, but Japan’s history of Arc runners dates back to 1969 courtesy of Speed Symboli.
He was, perhaps inevitably, beaten a long way though the quality of raider sent from the Far East has increased enormously from those early days, and since El Condor Pasa and the turn of the millennium we’ve witnessed more runner-up heartbreak through Nakayama Festa (2010) and Orfevre (twice, 2012 and 2013), plus the memorable scenes in 2006 which saw superstar Deep Impact sent off 2/5 on the PMU after thousands of Japanese fans flew in to watch (and punt on the local pools, presumably) their hero, who could manage only third to Rail Link having briefly looked in complete control of the race.
Deep Impact was later disqualified for having a banned substance in his system, while more recent attemps have resulted in Japanese runners either not being ideally suited to the nature of an Arc test on autumn ground, or simply lacking the requisite class.
A little bit of both were no doubt at play as last year’s representative Deirdre finished a well-held eighth behind Sottsass, but Chrono Genesis has far more to recommend her being a daughter of Bago, himself the Arc winner 17 years ago.
In line with that pedigree, her sole start on yielding ground resulted in an impressive Group Two victory, while her form at Group One level mainly on quick going – in chronological order – reads 23315213121. In short, she’s getting better as she gets older and while we already knew the grey compared favourably to the very best middle-distance horses in Japan thanks to her close third to Almond Eye over 10 furlongs last November, her form now has a distinctly European feel too after a neck second to Mishriff in the Dubai Sheema Classic this March.
It wasn’t the deepest renewal of the 12-furlong Meydan feature, Mogul having been sent off favourite, but the first three are obviously top-class with Mishriff since building back up to win the Juddmonte International at York and third home Loves Only You going on to claim Group One victory in Hong Kong (there was a gap of three lengths back to the fourth, Walton Street).
It’s a race worth revisiting too as Mishriff ultimately prevailed by a neck and the same, but Chrono Genesis clearly wasn’t done any favours in the home straight, getting at least one major bump off Loves Only You, who was desperately looking for a way out into the clear. She showed great guts to get back up to beat that rival, only for David Egan to have swept past on the winner out wide.
Chrono Genesis has since resumed winning ways on home soil, comfortably defying a 92-day break to repeat her win in the 2020 Takarazuka Kinen under Christophe Lemaire.
Lemaire – in for the selection’s stricken regular rider Yuichi Kitamura – will be replaced at Longchamp by Britain’s champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who has clearly already done his considerable bit for Japanese racing in these parts and will be looking to take that special bond to another level altogether.
She’s going straight there by all accounts which makes sense given she’s always been able to reproduce her best form after a layoff, while her proven stamina, ability to handle all types of ground, plus the way she's already handled international travel, are without question going to France.
Timeform have rated Chrono Genesis 125 which is a peg or three higher than Wonderful Tonight (122) and equal to Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa, who are both shorter than her in the betting.
The market leader is Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall (incidentally, by Deep Impact) who is four from four in her Classic season and bumped up from 120p to 124 by Timeform on the back of her Yorkshire Oaks romp.
Providing she wins the Prix Vermeille and is supplemented as expected, she’ll get 7lb from the older mares in the Arc but unlike Chrono Genesis and Tarnawa – who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf last November – she’s yet to show she can do battle with the boys. In fact, she’s never raced against a colt or gelding which makes the current 9/4 look a little skinny despite what the clock says.
Most feared are Charlie Appleby’s pair of three-year-old colts, Adayar (Timeform: 133) and Hurricane Lane (123p). The latter is bound for next Saturday’s Cazoo St Leger and has reportedly been on that path for some time, which clearly far from precludes a tilt at the Arc (there are 22 days between the two races this year), though no horse has ever been able to pull off the double.
Adayar (another key player for whom the supplementary entry looks a given) is probably the one I’m most comfortable to oppose from an antepost perspective, not that I don’t feel he’s up to the task. After all he beat Mishriff with something to spare in the King George and the Gosden horse is one of the cornerstones of the case for Chrono Genesis, but the likely prep run in the Prix Niel next Sunday is slightly concerning.
A look around the track can do no harm, nor the basic matter of more racing experience for the Derby-winning son of Frankel, but can he really enhance his credentials appreciably in what is normally a pretty weak and falsely-run trial? And does anything about that scenario fill you with confidence as a punter? It’d be a resounding ‘no’ on both counts here and if anything it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see Adayar head into the Arc a touch bigger than his general 4/1 (9/2 with William Hill) at this point.
Hurricane Lane looks more of a potential springer, especially after what he did over the Arc course and distance in the Grand Prix de Paris when last seen, and the three weeks in between is more than enough time for the Leger dust to settle and Appleby to reload his guns should all go to plan on Town Moor.
But I’d prefer to avoid any bubble-bursting this year and take the freshness angle with an underestimated Japanese horse who might just catch Snowfall cold.
It's admittedly getting a little late in the year for something to emerge from leftfield and lay down a marker for the Arc, though it's not completely impossible and Saiydabad's Group Three victory in the Prix du Prince d'Orange at Longchamp on Sunday sparked Betfair and Paddy Power to introduce him as a 50/1 chance.
The established trials - including Tarnawa taking on St Mark's Basilica in the Irish Champions Stakes - will obviously shed more light on things but with Adayar and Snowfall heading for the Niel and Vermeille respectively then opportunities to muscle in on the action near the top of the market look rather thin on the ground.
If there's a potential lurker then maybe Andre Fabre's three-year-old filly Philomene is one to monitor in the next week or so. She looked badly in need of the run when returning from a summer break at Deauville last month, a race her master trainer had referred to as a prep for the Vermeille.
Fabre knows she's better than that as her French Oaks second to Joan Of Arc back in June proves and she's bred to improve for more of a test of stamina. So while she'll need to sprout wings (relative to the Deauville display at least) in order to trouble Snowfall next week, the daughter of Dubawi is not the finished article yet.
She is 50/1 for the Arc with bet365 and William Hill and as short as 20s at Sky Bet and Unibet so evidently isn't the easiest to weigh up. I wouldn't really want to be a layer at the top price but, equally, there's not quite enough in her form to recommend at bet.
Published at 1500 BST on 05/09/21
When: Sunday October 3
Where: ParisLongchamp, France
Winning prize: £2.8m
Check out the latest Arc de Triomphe odds ahead of the big race in Paris, featuring Snowfall, Adayar and Tarnawa.
Also keep an eye on the links below for all the latest extra place offers and free bets around the major racing festivals.
1pt e.w. Snazzy Jazzy in Ayr Gold Cup at 33/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.
Further support and information can be found at begambleaware.org and gamblingtherapy.org.