6 runners go to post on Sunday for this Group 2, but in truth the race revolves around just 1, Stradivarius. The most impressive stayer for a generation, Stradivarius steps back to 12-furlongs in an attempt to end his career on a high. The Arc is clearly the main aim and this is perhaps more of a fact finding mission to see if he is able to compete at the shorter trip. The early markets have Stradivarius around an Even money shot, which I think is very fair, if the race was run 10 times, I think I would expect him to win 5 of them. The biggest danger to Stradivarius is likely to be the race tactics, a small field in France in the autumn has the strong possibility of being slowly run. If that happens and it were to turn into a sprint, Stradivarius may find himself in trouble, as his sectional times in recent years show that he is a relentless galloper, as opposed to a sprinter. The easiest way for Frankie Dettori to negate this would be to make the running, which is an option. In truth he should win, but I don’t think there is any value to be offered at Evens and I would rather look elsewhere.
Anthony Van Dyck
Frustrating is the nicest way to describe this colt. He has produced 2 excellent performances in the last year or so, a Derby Win at Epsom and a very good 2nd to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup on his reappearance this year. However, away from that his form has taken far too many ups and downs. His latest start, when 5th behind Fanny Logan in the Hardwicke stakes at Royal Ascot, was lacklustre to say the least. His backers will point to the fact that he finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Stradivarius in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket, but he was somewhat flattered by the way the race panned out that day and all of his best form is on Firmer going. The Antepost markets price him around 5/2, which I find ridiculously short given the horses overall profile.
Way to Paris
The solid option. At 7-years-old, Way to Paris is the old boy of the party. However, 2020 has been his year. He has already won the Group 1 Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud in June, as well as the Group 2 Grand Prix De Chantilly. Add in to 2nd places in Group 2 races here and at Chantilly over inadequate trips and we have the solid option. Way to Paris has found a way to win, following the pace and using his stamina when it matters. He doesn’t have the profile of Stradivarius and is probably 15lbs inferior on what he has achieved overall. However, this is the right trip, on the right ground, for a horse with course and distance form. If the race does become tactical, I think that is more likely to suit Way to Paris and I think he is the most likely to run his race and is worth a small play against Stradivarius.
Ziyad is an interesting runner, consistent at group level, with form figures of 322131533. Ziyad has chased home both Way to Paris and Telecaster so far this season and is a good horse in his own right. However, it is hard to see how he reverses the form with Way to Paris from their meeting in June. Furthermore, the race behind Telecaster was a tough race on desperate ground and may have left its mark. With only a 14 day break it is hard to see him finding the necessary improvement to feature here.
Much more an unknown, having only his 7th career start on Sunday, Skyward is definitely going the right way. He won the Group 3 Prix De Reux Stakes at Deauville in August, showing a good attitude to hold off Sublimis and Styledargent. He is a colt that connections will have a lot of fun with, but is probably running here for the minor money as that form would put him some way off the principles, who are proven top level horses.
What a horse for his connections to have. A reliable, tough as nails son of Sixties Icon, Nagano Gold has competed with honour at the top level. He’s placed in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, won twice at Listed level and placed 4 times at Group level. It is even fair to say that he wasn’t disgraced when 8th in last years Arc. All that being said, he is held by Way to Paris on their run in June as well and it seems unlikely that he is going to find the necessary improvement to win this, a place probably being his best hope.
In truth, if Stradivarius connections truly hope to win the Arc in October, he should be winning this. The obvious concern is the drop in trip, on his previous start at 12 furlongs in the Coronation Cup, he was off the bridle from a long way out. Now there isn’t a horse of the calibre of Ghaiyyath in this field, so he may well get away with it. As I stated, Evens seems a fair price, but the small field and the possibility of a tactical race is enough for me to think there is some value against him and I hope that Way to Paris could be that value, with conditions in his favour.