Chantilly: two-day Arc meeting kicks off at temporary home on Saturday
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Andrew Dietz 5:03PM 30 SEP 2016
It’s not all about Sunday
With a feast of six Group 1s including the main event of the Arc, Sunday captures the vast majority of the attention but the two-day meeting kicks off at its temporary home of Chantilly on Saturday with a tantalising aperitif.
Ably supported by four Group 2s, the Prix du Cadran is the sole top-flight contest, a 2m4½f race known as the French equivalent of the Gold Cup where stamina is required in abundance.
Ascot hero Order Of St George goes for the Arc instead and although Lonsdale Cup winner Quest For More heads the British team, the star quality is provided by the Aga Khan’s Vazirabad, who won the Dubai Gold Cup but is untried over further than two miles.
The Japanese invasion
Japanese racing’s obsession with Europe’s autumn showpiece is well-documented, and a first winner for the country is still sought after a long list of near-misses in the Arc.
Undeterred by what has gone before they’re back with a traditional strong hand in the shape of Japanese Derby winner Makahiki, second favourite behind the Roger Varian-trained Postponed.
Hoards of Japanese press and photographers have again descended on France and many back home will be hoping the hoodoo is finally ended. However, one interested Japanese onlooker who surely won’t be cheering on Makahiki is Varian’s wife Hanako.
Angel taking flight in the Abbaye
The Angel of the north has conquered Britain and Ireland on her last two starts, now can she rule Europe? Mecca’s Angel has yet to claim a Group 1 away from her home track of York but she won a Group 3 at Longchamp last year so crossing the Channel should not be an issue.
The queen of speed was grounded 12 months ago when conditions dried up too much for her to run in the Abbaye but the going is not expected to be a problem this time.
British contenders have dominated the 5f sprint in recent years and the bookmakers are expecting a similar story with the top eight in the betting hailing from these shores.
The big race
Europe’s richest race has lost some of its major players in the build-up but has a worthy favourite in Postponed. Unbeaten in six starts since Royal Ascot last year, the five-year-old has shown his versatility over middle distances but his record of one defeat in seven starts over 1m4f suggest the Arc trip is his optimum.
He might be a lot of people’s idea of the winner of the 96th running of the Arc, but recent trends favour the Classic generation with three-year-olds victorious in 15 of the last 20 years and dual Derby hero Harzand could be a big danger providing the ground is not too quick.
Remember whatever your fancy for the big one you won’t be able to watch any of Sunday’s action on terrestrial television and will need to switch on to Sky Sports 2, Racing UK or At The Races instead.