Fascinating Rock: set to go to Ascot to defend his Champion Stakes crown
PICTURE: Alain Barr (racingpost.com/photos)
By BRIAN SHEERIN & Scott Burton 11:00AM 27 SEP 2016
TRAINER Dermot Weld has revealed that Fascinating Rock, the intended mount of Frankie Dettori, will not be lining up for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday – but Irish Champion Stakes hero Almanzor remains in contention.
Fascinating Rock was put through his paces on Tuesday morning alongside dual Derby winner Harzand, after which Weld made the decision to side-step Chantilly in favour of a repeat bid in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
“He won’t run in the Arc,” Weld told the Racing Post. “The plan is to keep him in training for the British Champion Stakes but the Arc is just coming a week too soon for him.
“He had the hold up before Leopardstown when his blood picture wasn’t right and it has just taken him a bit longer to get back to himself.
“He pleased me with his work under Pat Smullen this morning, but he is a big powerful colt and we will give him the extra bit of time in order to have him ready for Ascot, where we will have another go at the British Champion Stakes, a race in which he won so well last year.”
With Fascinating Rock out of the Arc, last year’s winning rider Dettori has no confirmed ride, having been confirmed to partner the five-year-old before he was scratched.
Harzand camp want rain
Weld’s sole representation in the autumn showpiece now rests with the Aga Khan-owned Harzand, who pleased connections in the same morning workout.
“I was very satisfied with his work this morning and the main thing is that he would like some rain at Chantilly, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to get much there this week,” the trainer added.
“The plan is to run and hopefully it will be nice safe ground but obviously he’s at his best when there’s a bit of cut in the ground.”
Possible field of 19
Almanzor, who had looked more likely to follow Fascinating Rock to Ascot for the Champion Stakes, remained among a possible field of 19 for the Arc after the latest forfeit stage on Tuesday morning.
Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget had hoped to run stablemate La Cressonniere in the Arc but she misses the race through injury, meaning Almanzor would be his only hope of a first success in the race.
Favourite Postponed and The Grey Gatsby remain the only possible runners trained in Britain, while Highland Reel, Order Of St George and Found could represent Aidan O’Brien.
Makahiki reassures Lemaire
Jockey Christophe Lemaire declared himself reassured on Tuesday morning after guiding Makahiki through his final serious piece of work ahead of Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The Japanese Derby winner stretched clear of his work companion at the end of a mile and a quarter on Les Aigles in Chantilly, showing considerably more punch than in the equivalent piece of work before the Prix Niel three weeks ago.
“He is always very relaxed in the mornings and he was able to track his lead horse easily,” said Lemaire. “He is a horse who only ever does the minimum and I wanted to work him a bit at the end there.
“He picked up well and I was very happy with him. Running up to the Arc I was looking for signs he is in good condition and I was reassured on that front.”
Makahiki is currently vying for second favouritism with Found at odds of around 6-1, and is the shortest-priced three-year-old with bookmakers.
Postponed, unbeaten in his last six runs, heads the Arc betting at a best-priced 2-1.