IT was perhaps no surprise to find out this week that Baaeed’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe bid had flattered only to deceive.
It is a shame that connections didn’t take the bolder, riskier move, that horses like Dancing Brave, Sea The Stars and Golden Horn did, and enhance their reputation. It was not as if any strong challengers emerged from events at Irish Champions Weekend, Doncaster or ParisLongchamp last weekend. And there is no guarantee that the colt would encounter better ground at Ascot than he might in ParisLongchamp.
The St Leger looked a bit of slog-out and produced no Arc contenders, while in Paris, favourites Tuesday, Verry Ellegant and Do Deuce were well beaten and, despite keeping these three trials at home, the French home team have not looked the strongest all year.
The two Group 1 winning French-trained three-year-olds of 2022 were in action at Leopardstown where they were second and third to Luxembourg in the Irish Champions Stakes.
That said, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix du Jockey-Club have ended up with more credit that the two Derbys at Epsom or the Curragh.
Westover is still in training but the Arc will surely come too soon while the Epsom one-two have questions to answer with Desert Crown absent since.
Aidan O’Brien won both the ICW features, over two furlongs shorter and longer than the Arc.
Luxembourg has taken over favouritism after his Leopardstown win and the Arc was mentioned as his target. The three-year-old colts are still a bit of a conundrum in terms of a leader and highest rated, taking this race and the Eclipse as the two key races of the season.
After his defeat at Leopardstown jockey Soumillon said a few times that Vadeni was not 100% fit and didn’t pick up on the ground as he had done in Sandown, yet connections expressed themselves as pleased. The colt does seem to have a low, quick action though and it is unlikely the ground will be faster into the autumn. The Arc must look doubtful.
These comments seem odd considering trainer Jean-Claude Rouget had Almanzor primed for this race before going on to win at Ascot in 2017.
Having said that, another French challenger from the Roguet yard, Sottsass, definitely stepped up on his ‘never troubled leaders’ Leopardstown fourth to win the Arc two years ago.
But both the Qipco Champion Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Turf might be higher in the pecking order for him.
Kyprios would well be interesting. With three Group 1s in the bag, he has nothing to prove at the longer distance so waiting for Ascot isn’t necessary.
Irish St Leger winners have run well in the Arc before and Kyprios might be worth a go with his confidence high, undoubted stamina and will to win. Oscar Schindler was third and fourth in high quality Arcs in the late 1990s and Order Of St George was third and fourth in 2016 and ‘17. It could even boost his stud potential to be placed in an Arc. He might also be tough enough to have a go at the Arc and still go to Ascot as Found did on two occasions. And, after the Doncaster Cup result, the Long Distance race at Ascot could well cut up.
Currently last year’s winner Torquator Tasso and the multiple, and underappreciated Yorkshire Oaks winner Apinista are close to the top of the Arc market, while Titleholder comes from Japan without a prep run.
The 2021 Derby winner Adayar looked pretty good on his belated reappearance at Doncaster. It will be interesting what direction his connections choose to take – would attempting to take down Baaeed be more worthy?
With Mishriff running a bit below his 2021 form again at Leopardstown, in some eyes, Baaeed needs to go out with an impressive win, given he appears to have been given the easier option.
Flightline is now the best horse in the world according to the latest edition of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings which were published Thursday. The next month is going to be interesting on this side of the ocean.