Makahiki is put through his paces by Christophe Lemaire on Wednesday
By Scott Burton 10:19AM 7 SEP 2016
CHRISTOPHE LEMAIRE declared himself “very happy” after partnering Japan’s latest Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe challenger Makahiki in a gallop over 1m1f of Chantilly’s straight Piste des Reservoirs on Wednesday morning.
A winner of four of his five races – including the Japanese Derby on his most recent start at the end of May – Makahiki arrived in France last month and has been slowly gearing up to his reappearance in the Prix Niel on Sunday.
Lemaire secured the vastly experienced services of four-time Arc winner Thierry Jarnet to ride a lead horse for the son of Deep Impact, and was not overly hard on Makahiki as he eased alongside his work companion.
“He only did enough to just get past his leader and no more but I was very happy,” said Lemaire. “He moved well and he changed leads at the right moment. Above all he didn’t blow a great deal after the gallop, so I think he is already in good shape.”
Lemaire has been a full-time resident in Japan for the last two seasons and is second in the jockeys’ standings there this term, but brings a wealth of knowledge when it comes to racing in his homeland, having ridden as first jockey to the Niarchos family and the Aga Khan.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Lemaire said: “It is a prep race and the Niel is often a very different test to the Arc. But I won’t hide my confidence. I expect him to run very well on Sunday.”
Makahiki, trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, is 9-1 with Betfred for the Arc, which takes place at Chantilly on October 2.
Harzand will not be among Makahiki’s opponents on Sunday having been taken out of the entries. The Derby and Irish Derby hero looks likely to run at Leopardstown instead in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes.