By Scott Burton 3:15PM 29 SEP 2016
A spy in the house of love
As the rhythm of Arc preparation has quickened through the autumn, mornings on the Chantilly gallops have often been accompanied by the thought that similar tense exercises are taking place simultaneously in Newmarket, on the Curragh and at Ballydoyle.
One man who may have been better placed than most to get a top-down overview is Chantilly supremo Mathieu Vincent, whose daughter Constance is part-way through her studies at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.
More pertinently Mademoiselle Vincent, who previously studied at Cambridge University, has been on placement with Roger Varian’s yard.
Thus three weeks ago, shortly after Makahiki had breezed in front of the media ahead of the Prix Niel, Vincent senior received a photo of Postponed shortly after having finished his own morning exercise.
Should anyone cry foul that the home team may have deliberately placed a spy in the enemy camp, it appears Constance may be something of a double agent.
Certainly Varian seemed very well informed of the going at Chantilly during a round of media interviews over the weekend.
Normandel to put a smile back on Demuro’s face?
Paris-Turf caught up with Cristian Demuro this the week to gauge his reaction 72 hours after the news fell that La Cressonniere had been ruled out of the Arc, and were rewarded with the confession that the 24-year-old had “cried all the way home on the plane” after riding in his native Italy on Sunday.
Scribes at French racing’s best known daily are clearly hard of heart, since Demuro was then pressed for his opinion on all the leading horses in the Arc that, barring a late call up for one of the outsiders, he won’t be riding against.
In happier times (i.e. before La Cressonniere’s setback), Demuro proved charming and eloquent company over lunch last week.
I asked him what he was looking forward to riding on the supporting card and he mentioned that he felt that the Pia Brandt-trained Normandel had plenty of scope to improve ahead of the Prix Marcel Boussac.
Being a more generous of spirit than some of my French colleagues, I will be cheering for Normandel in the opener on Sunday.
Gauvin hoping for happy ending to Arc Saga
Arc weekend may not always be guaranteed to take place in Indian Summer conditions and there have been plenty of Arcs at Longchamp run in very testing ground.
But Sunday’s edition looks likely to be third edition in a row run under blue skies and where the horses will be able to hear their hooves rattle.
So spare a thought for connections of the admirable Siljan’s Saga, a confirmed mudlark who will be completing a hat-trick of Arc appearances on Sunday after connections opted to take their chance instead of running in Saturday’s Prix de Royallieu.
Having finished 12th in the 2014 Arc and eighth 12 months later, Siljan’s Saga has shown this summer that she is capable of high-class form on good ground.
Quotes of 66-1 seem wide of the mark in such an open race and trainer Jean-Pierre Gauvin will be hoping to channel the spirit of his 2012 Chantilly Classic winner, Saonois.
However, closer scrutiny of Siljan’s Saga’s Group 1 record suggests Gauvin would be even happier had France Galop selected Saint-Cloud as the Arc’s temporary home.