In this 3rd part, we take a look at the runners for Jean-Claude Rouget and what they might achieve.
A truly genuine filly, this daughter of Sea the Stars always seems to run her race. She began her season with a Listed win at Paris Longchamp before an admirable 4th in the Prix de Diane, which is the best fillies race in Europe this season. She has added the Group 3 Prix de Psyche, before finishing 2nd to Tarnawa in the Prix Vermeille, when the winner got first run in the straight.
Raabihah is solid, a relentless galloper who may well get further in time. She will run her race, but that is where my admiration stops. She seems to lack the necessary turn of foot that all of the great middle distance horses have and has looked very one paced on her recent starts. As admirable as she is, it is hard to envisage the race panning out in such a way that it will play to her strengths. Most likely, she will be outpaced when they start to sprint for home, before staying on all the way to the line, by which time her chance will be gone.
3rd in last years race, Sottsass has clearly been trained with the Autumn in mind. He had twice been beaten in group company behind Shaman and Skalleti this season, before he ran an admirable 4th in the Irish Champions Stakes. Initially that run looked disappointing, but to finish within a couple of lengths of Magical and Ghaiyyath, 2 horses at the peak of their powers, was probably a seasons best. He will love the soft going on Sunday, as well as the return to 12 furlongs and has perhaps been unfairly written off by many.
All that being said, there are lots of rumours from the yard that he has been difficult to train and even harder to keep fit this season, with suggestions that he lacks the enthusiasm for the game at times. It will take a career best performance for him to win this and it can't be ignored that he probably had a much better chance last year.
A month ago, I was convinced that Jean-Claude Rouget had the key to the Arc, but after the trials and having spent several hours examining the runners in detail, it seems he has outside chances at best.