IF we are going to be left in awe after Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe showpiece then the chances are it will be down to French favourite Ace Impact.
The unbeaten six-timer-seeking Classic winner takes on 14 runners for the Group 1 European middle distance crown.
Further down this column I’ll be tipping up a lively outsider . . . but first let’s consider the main market rivals.
Ace Impact is by Cracksman out of an Anabaa Blue mare.
The former was denied a tilt at an Arc because he was around at the time of stable companion and dual heroine Enable.
Anabaa Blue was seventh of 16 to Marienbard in the 2002 renewal and ninth of 17 to Sakhee the previous year.
However, while his close relatives may not have banged in France’s most famous horse race, the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Ace Impact may well do so after five consecutive victories which have made him look something special.
They include a scintillating success in the French Derby — like Anabaa Blue — where he came from near last to first under Cristian Demuro.
He beat the talented Big Rock and the reopposing Feed The Flame and Continuous, and last time at Deauville when denying Al Riffa, who won the Group 1 National Stakes as a youngster.
The problem for Ace Impact fans is he is unproven at the distance and gets ridden as if he’s Dancing Brave, the great fast-finishing Arc hero of 1986. He will have to be to give all of these a head start.
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Many will believe the opposition is headed by Hukum, closely related to worldy Baaeed and trying to give Shadwell a first Arc victory.
The Owen Burrows-handled six-year-old was a gutsy winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and also has a Coronation Cup success to his name as well as a defeat of Derby winner Desert Crown.
A former handicapper — he had the Ascot Gold Cup hero Subjectivist back in third when taking the 2020 King George V Stakes — Hukum stays well and should be bang there at the finish.
Ideally, though, Jim Crowley’s mount would prefer softer ground.
History is also against him, with NO six-year-old ever winning an Arc.
Westover chased home Hukum at Ascot last time and was a fair sixth in last year’s Arc. He should run a solid race for Ralph Beckett but I can’t help but think something will be too good.
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Nothing would give me more pleasure if I’m wrong as Rob Hornby would be a terrific result as the winning rider.
Sir Michael Stoute bids for a second Arc with Bay Bridge, and I suggested in this column not so long ago that he was a lively outsider at 25-1.
He is less than half those odds now and there aren’t many in here who can match his success in the 2022 Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes when getting the better of Adayar. Richard Kingscote has eachway hopes.
I wouldn’t put you off Feed The Flame, trained by Pascal Bary and a Group 1 winner in the Grand Prix de Paris.
That’s not strong form with Adelaide River in second, albeit a winner at Leopardstown of a Group 3 next time out, but Feed The Flame promises much more to come after just five outings.
The son of Kingman stays well and was never going to be suited by the small field in the Prix Niel last time.
I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t run a massive race under Christophe Soumillon as Bary looks for his first Arc.
However, if Ace Impact isn’t different class FANTASTIC MOON is the horse I want on my side.
Many believe he had the run of the race when beating Feed The Flame in the Niel, but I liked the speed he showed to get the pacemaker and he stayed on really well.
German raiders in the big races in France and England are always bigger odds than they should be.
It’s a massive weekend of Group races this side of La Manche with the Group 1 Cheveley Park and Middle Park at Newmarket as well as the huge betting event that is the Cambridgeshire.
People may well mock me for putting my nap on the favourite in that — but GREEK ORDER (3.40) could be another Cap Juluca and Blue Monday in the Cambridgeshire for the Charltons and I don’t think they will be laughing when he hacks up.
All in all, it’s going to be a Fantastic weekend of action! Enjoy.
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