THE QATAR ARC TRIALS CARD: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 AT PARISLONGCHAMP
 Getting a pre-Arc de Triomphe taster at the new temple of racing

THE QATAR ARC TRIALS CARD: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 AT PARISLONGCHAMP
 
Getting a pre-Arc de Triomphe taster
at the new temple of racing

 
On Sunday the Qatar Arc Trials return to their spiritual home. They are effectively the final stepping stones to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as we rediscover the Longchamp experience, or ParisLongchamp as it is now known as. After two years of renovation works at the Bois de Boulogne track, the homecoming of the Arc trials takes place against the backdrop of a sparkling new track and the novelty of the open stretch: the cut away which is there to ensure that all the horses are now playing on a level playing field. Put another away, the aim is to ensure that horses no longer get trapped on the inside during a race. Certain of the Arc trials pretenders have already come up, close and personal with the open stretch in the spring. For others it will be a new experience.
 
For all the objective is a simple one and namely by laying down a marker and showing the requisite level of form designed to seal a place in the forthcoming Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
• The Qatar Prix Vermeille, the Gr.1 contest for the three-year-old fillies’ and upwards, will perhaps be the scene of a heart-warming outcome as Zarkamiya (Frankel) attempts to emulate the success of her dam Zarkava (Zamindar): the winner of this race in 2008.
• In the Qatar Prix Foy, trainer André Fabre seems to have a very strong hand as he saddles three of the six runners: Waldgeist (Galileo), Cloth of Stars (Sea the Stars) and Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro). Forming part of a clutch of ‘forgotten’ horses in the bookmakers’ antepost
lists, they will be out to provide a timely reminder of their Arc credentials. The Prix Foy will also enable us to get a first glimpse of the Japanese challenger in Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: Clincher (Deep Sky).
• The three-year-old colts involved in the Qatar Prix Niel are also outsiders when it comes to
the context of an Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The onus is now on them to show that they improved during the summer…
 
THE QATAR PRIX VERMEILLE
 
The Qatar Prix Vermeille is the sixth leg of the EpiqE Series and enjoys its own special status
on the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trials card. For it is the only one of the three recognised ‘Arc’ preps to enjoy Group 1 status: the highest accolade possible in world racing. This means that it is not just a stepping stone towards the Arc as it also constitutes a top flight objective in its own right.
 
 
The five last fillies/mares to complete the Vermeille-Arc double
Year                          Filly/mare
2013                         Trêve
2008                         Zarkava
1979                         Three Troïkas
1972                         San San
1945                         Nikellora
 
 
The last six Qatar Prix Vermeille winners and how they fared in the Arc          
                  Winner                                              Arc performance
2017           Bateel                                               Non-runner
2016           Left Hand                                        12th
2015           Trêve                                                4th
2014           Baltic Baroness                                Non-runner
2013           Trêve                                                1st
2012           Shareta                                             9th
 
Eight runners will take the stage in the Qatar Prix Vermeille including the much talked about Zarkamiya (Frankel). Bred in the purple, her sire Frankel (Galileo) is considered by some as the greatest horse of all time. Unbeaten in 14 starts, he won ten Group 1 races. The dam Zarkava (Zamindar) was one of the very best fillies of the previous decade. She was similarly unbeaten after a flawless race record of seven wins in as many starts: a tally which included five Group 1 wins and comprised the Qatar Prix Vermeille and the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Zarkava was an exceptional filly and it is worth reminiscing on the manner of her success in the Qatar Prix Vermeille as she gave her rivals a sizeable head start after stumbling out of the stalls as the gates opened. Consequently, she lost many lengths as a result of this. However, that didn’t prevent her from picking off her rivals one by one after showing an exceptional turn of foot. Zarkamiya will be out to follow in the hoofprints of her dam. A talented filly blessed with a turn of foot not dissimilar to Zarkava, the only weakness in her armoury being that she can get a little wound up. Zarkamiya has ran four times for two wins, including a success at Listed level, plus a third in the Prix Minerve (Group 3) at Deauville and a fourth place.
Heading the opposition are the likes of Kitesurf (Dubawi). The Godolphin runner from the
André Fabre stable is a very good filly. She is coming off an easy win in the Darley Prix de Pomone: a Group 2 race for fillies and mares which she won by three and a half lengths.
From the other side of the channel, the presence of Worth Waiting (Bated Breath) looms large. A filly on a continuous upward curve, she underscored this by recording four wins on the bounce, including the Prix Minerve in which her victims included Zarkamiya. The number one hope from Ireland is Magic Wand (Galileo): the French bred filly from the Ecurie des Monceaux academy. Magic Wand made a very big impression at Royal Ascot in June when she won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes. She has been a bit disappointing since and now needs to show her true mettle.
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THE QATAR PRIX NIEL
 
The Qatar Prix Niel is the traditional prep for three-year-old colts with Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe ambitions. Rail Link (Dansili) was the last to complete the Niel-Arc double in 2006. On the face of it, the current crop of three-year-old colts look to face a stiff task should they decide to go down the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe route. However, we should also sound a note of caution as some of the ‘Niel’ runners are entitled to progress.
 
The horses which have completed the Niel-Arc double since 1990
Year                     Horse
2006                    Rail Link
2005                    Hurricane Run
2003                    Dalakhani
2000                    Sinndar
1999                    Montjeu
1998                    Sagamix
1996                    Helissio
1994                    Carnegie
 
Les six winners of the Prix Niel and how they fared in the Arc
Year                     Winner                               Arc performance
2017                    Cracksman                         Non-runner
2016                    Makahiki                            14th
2015                    New Bay                            3rd
2014                    Ectot                                  17th
2013                    Kizuna                               4th
2012                    Saônois                              Unplaced
 
It isn’t easy to pick out a clear favourite in the Qatar Prix Niel although the French colt Neufbosc (Mastercraftsman) is entitled to fill that role. Owned by Gérard Augustin-Normand and trained by Pia Brandt, the colt is un-raced since finishing second in the Group 1
Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp on July 14th. On a constant upward curve during the spring, he may yet progress further.
Brundtland (Dubawi) is among his rivals. The Godolphin runner, trained in Britain by Charlie Appleby, is still very inexperienced as he has only run twice during his career. However, he has won both times. He won his only start at two in 2017 and shone in the
Listed Grand Prix de Clairefontaine during the summer. He will need to raise his game a notch if he is to prevail on Sunday and earn the right to tackle the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He was never entered for the ‘Arc and will need to be supplemented at a cost of 120.000 €.
Royal Youmzain (Youmzain) hails from Germany. He started favourite for the Deutsches Derby in which he was third – a position he also filled in the Grosser Preis Von Berlin. Up against older horses in the latter race, he was far from disgraced in the Group 1 contest in which he was beaten less than a length.
Naturally High (Camelot) is trained by Pascal Bary and owned by Jean-Louis Bouchard.
A pale shadow of himself in the Qipco Prix du Jockey Club, he is better than that and is deserving of a reprieve.
 
THE QATAR PRIX FOY
 
The Qatar Prix Foy enjoys Group 2 status and is the traditional conduit to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for four-year-old colts/fillies and upwards. Some fillies and mares have contested this race in the past rather than the Qatar Prix Vermeille which, lest we forget, is a Group 1 contest and a top level objective in its own right. Although the race is devoid of the presence of fillies this year. The “Foy-Arc” double was last achieved in 1984. The runners
in the 2018 edition of the Qatar Prix Foy are not considered leading players in the bookmakers’ lists for the ‘Arc. Again, we need to tread carefully as it could be a mistake…
 
The last horses to complete the Foy-Arc double
Year              Horse
1984             Sagace
1974             Allez France
 
 
How the last six winners of the Prix Foy fared in the Arc
Year             Prix Foy winner                        Performance in the Arc
2017             Dschingis Secret                       6th
2016             Silverwave                                13th
2015             Postponed                                 Non-runner
2014             Ruler of the World                    9th
2013             Orfèvre                                     2nd
2012             Orfèvre                                     2nd
 
Of the six runners involved in the 2018 edition of the Qatar Prix Foy, three are trained by André Fabre: namely the Godolphin pair, Cloth of Stars (Sea the Stars) and Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro), plus Waldgeist (Galileo). The latter represents the respective German and British interests of the Gestüt Ammerland and Newsells Park. André Fabre could well fill the first three places in this Group 2 contest. Waldgeist hasn’t been sighted on a racecourse since his success in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July. He has been quiet in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe antepost market, having been quoted at odds varying from 14/1 to 33/1 by the bookies. It seems a harsh assessment of his chances considering that he is only now reaching full maturity as a four-year-old. Furthermore, there is no telling on how far he will go…
Talismanic is one of the darlings of the racing world. Resplendent with his white face and socks, he adds to a very distinct appearance by exhibiting a very laid back temperament. He started to peak in the second half of 2017 when, as a four-year-old, he captured the most prestigious US turf race: The Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf last autumn. This was the prelude to his second place in the Longines Hong Kong Vase in December. He has run very little this term and made a triumphant return on the Chantilly ‘fibresand’ at the beginning of March. He failed to handle the ‘Meydan’ dirt when subsequently unplaced in the Dubai World Cup. Given a break after that race, he made a triumphant return in the Prix Gontaut-Biron – Hong Kong Jockey Club, a Group 3 contest, in August.
It isn’t easy to weigh-up the chance of Cloth of Stars: the second in the 2017 edition of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He has been bedevilled by bad luck throughout his 2018 campaign and is hugely talented. He does have his off days but in the event of rediscovering his mojo who knows…
Still on the subject of the domestic contenders, Way to Paris (Champs Elysées) is cast in the role of an outsider. His Italian trainer Andrea Marcialis has been based in France for several years, and Way To Paris invariably gives of his best and loves ParisLongchamp.
From a foreign perspective, the main attraction is the presence of the Japanese contender: Clincher (Deep Sky). He will be ridden by a rider who enjoys cult status in his homeland: Yutaka Take. The Japanese have brought a number of their high class performers to the
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe party and namely: El Condor Pasa (Kingmambo), Deep Impact (Sunday Silence) and Orfèvre (Stay Gold) but all came up short. However, they are adopting a different approach this time as Clincher isn’t even the best horse in Japan. However, his adaptability is a plus factor as he is at equally at home over trips ranging from 2.000 metres to  3.200 metres. He also handles extremes of going – being effective on a fast as well as a heavy track. Finally, the Irish visitor and attractive grey Capri (Galileo) is a quality horse. However, this is a tough ask and he hasn’t raced since April following health problems.