In this final part, we look at the remaining runners and assess their chances of causing an upset.
Aiden O’Brien is a genius, a master trainer who has won it all and who am I to disagree with him? If he sees something in Japan, then I have to trust him, but I can’t see it. He has shown some flashes of ability, as his win in the 2019 Great Voltigeur at York showed, but in 2020 he hasn’t shown anything to suggest he is capable of winning an Arc.
He ran flat on his comeback at Royal Ascot behind Lord North, finished last of 3 in the King George behind Enable and was very disappointing in the Irish Champion Stakes last time. His backers will point to a decent run when he was 3rd to Ghaiyyath and Enable in the Eclipse, but that was at Sandown on firmer ground in the middle of summer. Nothing he has shown me would suggest he could win in this field….but this is Aiden O’Brien.
Last years Irish Derby win was a shock, but he produced a superb display under an enterprising ride from Padraig Beggy that day. People are always quick to dismiss that form, as they have been with Serpentine in 2020. The fact is that he is an Irish classic winner and he blitzed the field from the front at the Curragh with ease, but I can’t see any situation where he will get those set of circumstances again and as such he is easily opposed.
This year he has comeback and run to a decent level, 2nd to Enable in the King George and 6th last time in the Irish St Leger, when the presence of Fujaira prince at the front of the field didn’t help his cause. I’m sure he will run his race, but he looks to my eye to be a Group 3 horse, running in a Group 1.
I’m very stubborn at times in my opinions of horses and I’m not ashamed to admit that I had written off Mogul as a hype horse. His disappointing runs at Royal Ascot and then 2 weeks later in the Epsom Derby were enough to convince me he wasn’t that good. Much like with Japan, the confidence and belief of his connections never seemed to translate itself into a performance on the track.
But in his last 3 runs, something has clicked. Mogul took the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, was a decent 3rd in the Great Voltigeur behind Pyledriver and then won the Grand Prix De Paris over course and distance on trials day. Now he has Ryan Moore on board, there are lots of positives for him going into the race. If he can repeat his performance from 3 weeks ago he has a chance.
However, on that day he got the perfect run round and the gaps appeared on the inside for him to take his chance. I have watched every race run at Paris Longchamp this season and I have not seen another horse get so much luck in running. In a stronger field, the odds of getting that kind of luck a second time are enormous.
If you asked an average punter to name the 15 runners in the Arc this year, Gold Trip would probably be one of those who most of them would overlook. That is probably a little unfair as he has some very solid form in the book. His win at Lyon-Parilly in June was a superb effort, with In Swoop a length back in 3rd and he won the German Derby on his next start. Last time out he was 3rd behind Mogul in the Grand Prix De Paris, which was another solid performance.
With all that in the book he deserves to take his chance, but nothing I have seen in his form would suggest he is about to step up to Group 1 level and on his breeding alone, there have to be some serious question marks over his stamina for a mile and a half on heavy going.