The World Class credentials of this race are stronger than ever and as evidence of this just have a look at the betting. Japanese, French, German, Japanese, Irish and British, covers the first 7 in the betting. It has always been a great race but there was a time when trainers with good horses thought about this race after they had already planned a long season. Now with £2.2 million on offer and the international focus from a breeding perspective, the race is almost number one on any trainer in the Northern Hemispheres agenda with a horse good enough to dream of taking part.
What does that mean for us who like a punt. Well quite a lot. It means we have to evaluate races across Europe and Japan, it means we have to equate times, form and tracks from different parts of the globe and it means that we end up with a tasty smorgasbord of wonderful animals from which to choose.
That said, its not the easiest of tasks to find the winner and this far out with so many evenly matched horses, things like the weather, the last minute health of horses, horses being supplemented and of course the French racing authority, are all unknowns. However now is the time to start forming opinions and things to be considered this weekend are :
1. Can Treve become one of only a handful of 3yr old fillies to win this great race. Her trainer says she fears only the Japanese favourite but history says this is a big ask.
2. As impressive as Orferve was visually when he quickened to win his Arc trial, as that was the slowest pace on the day of the Arc trials, did he just easily beat horses he should have beaten and was he unlucky last year in the Arc or simply not good enough.
3. The performance of Novellist in the King George was astounding, he gave nearly a stone to Trading Leather and on ground that people thought was too quick for him ran a time 5 seconds faster than standard. Was that the reason why his next win in Germany looked below par or was it that Trading leather simply isn’t very good.
5. Is Kizuna in the same league as Orfevre as a live Japanese winner, after appearing to scramble home at Longchamp and will the extra 2 furlongs suit – its not certain on pedigree.
6. Are Ruler of the World, Intello, Flintshire and Al Kazeem, all Group 1 winners this year, simply bit players in this cast of stars or does one of them still having something to offer that we haven’t seen.
6. Was the run of The Fugue at York, so impressive, on its favoured quick ground, a case that if the rain stays away, we have found a lively 20/1 chance?
7. And what about the St Leger winner – will Leading Light make the pace and can it go quick enough to see stamina become the suit most required to win this race.
8. With so little between all these great horses, which jockey will make the right decision at the right time and will it come down to luck and those notorious French Stewards. It could do if there is no pace in the race as they all fight for space in a slowly run race. It can be a real dog fight in the last two furlongs.
I would be amazed if I haven’t mentioned the winner in the questions raised above and if you are going to have a bet then you need to see which one of these horses most answers the questions posed above.
In the days ahead I will be looking through race trends, reading trainer comments and watching the French Bureau of Meteorology very closely and all the time trying to get under the skin of this superb World Class race. I cant wait but enjoying the build up is as much a joy as the 3 minutes it takes to run the race.
Get working on it if you want to really enjoy this outstanding spectacle. For the record my first bet will be Novellist at 11/2 with Corals. I think we will look back at the King George and see that was an astounding performance. I think the ground did jar him up just a little and the performance took a little out of him for his next run which is why it was perceived as slightly below par. His trainer says he has never been better after the rest and with so many unknowns he is the best value as he goes on all grounds and seems to have more ticks in more columns and he has Johnny Murtagh on board. Not that I love him as a jockey or think he is better than the rest – no he’s much the same as the others and he is very good – I just think he is lucky in big races and lucky is better than good any day.