ParisLongchamp staged the all important Qatar Arc Trials card on Sunday. Three weeks in advance of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, three races on the card were cast in the role as stepping stones to the big race in question. Sottsass, the Deauville representative, having shown a touch of class in the Qatar Prix Niel, and the Chantilly-trained Waldgeist, who repeated his 2018 success in the Qatar Prix Foy (Gr2), both saw their stock rise in advance of their October 6 bids. However, the British filly Star Catcher, the winner of the Qatar Prix Vermeille (Gr1), doesn’t currently hold an ‘Arc’ entry and the chances of her making the starting grid appear to be small.
QATAR PRIX NIEL (Gr2 – 3-y-olds - 2.400 metres (1 1/2m)- 130.000 €)
Sottsass lands a notable blow
Sottsass (Siyouni) left a big impression on the Sunday card at ParisLongchamp. Completely boxed-in when things started to take a serious turn, the colt who races the colours of White Birch Farm of Peter Brant fame, stamped his authority in 100m once in the clear. He captured the Qatar Prix Niel in excellent style as he reaffirmed his status as France’s number one hope in the forthcoming Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The colt, trained at Deauville by Jean-Claude Rouget, established himself as the leading French three-year-old in the wake of his QIPCO Prix du Jockey-Club win in June. He hadn’t raced since. Jean-Claude Rouget said: “I hadn’t made allowances for the race unfolding in such a manner. I was of the opinion that the colt would have held his place behind his pacemaker, but this wasn’t the case. It then took some time before the gaps came his way. However, that’s perfect as I didn’t want the colt to have a hard race and, at the end of the day, he has only had to make a race of it for 100m!”
Mutamakina (Nathaniel), the only filly in the race, was a length and a quarter adrift in second. She holds entries in the Prix de l’Opéra Longines and the Qatar Prix de Royallieu. Mohawk (Galileo), the Irish challenger, was third.
QATAR PRIX FOY (Gr2 - 4-y-o and d up - 2.400 metres (1 1/2m) - 130.000 €)
Waldgeist defends his title
As in 2018, Waldgeist (Galileo) again come up trumps in the Qatar Prix Foy (Gr2).
The chestnut, racing in the colours of the German stud, Gestüt Ammerland (in partnership with Newsells Park), is trained at Chantilly by André Fabre, proved an easy winner and didn't have to force his talent. After racing in second place behind the Japanese challenger Kiseki (Rulership), he asserted comfortably in the straight.
Regarding Waldgeist, the aim of the exercise was to win the race but without being fully extended, granted that his target is the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, having finished fourth in the 2018 edition of that race. Way to Paris (Champs Elysées), using this race as a stepping stone to the Qatar Prix du Cadran (Gr1), gave a good account of himself in second, but Kiseki ran disappointingly in third.
Pierre-Charles Boudot, the rider of Waldgeist, said: "I placed my mount in the slipstream of the Japanese raider who set a good clip. He picked up gradually in the straight. He perhaps showed a little less zip than last year, but it was very much a tune-up race and he will be in peak condition come three weeks time. He has run some great races this season. On his previous start, he finished within a length and half of Enable and Crystal Ocean. So there are reasons to be hopeful on October 6 !"
QATAR PRIX VERMEILLE (Gr1 - Femelles de 3ans et plus - 2.400 mètres - 600.000 €)
Star Catcher wins her own particular 'Arc'
Owner and breeder Anthony Oppenheimer has found Paris to be a very happy hunting ground, and the success of his colt, Golden Horn (Cape Cross), in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2015 at old style Longchamp, springs to mind. This time on the Arc trials card, it was the turn of Star Catcher (Sea the Stars) to showcase the colours of the owner by making all in the Qatar Prix Vermeille (Gr1). The filly, ridden by Lanfranco Dettori, made every post a winning one and found another gear at the business end to repel the threat posed by the French challenger, Musis Amica (Dawn Approach). The latter was the author of an eyecatching finishing. André Fabre saddled two runners in the race and his other contender, Ligne d’Or (Dansili), was third.
Star Catcher is trained in Britain by John Gosden, the man readily associated with the star turn that is Enable, and who on October 6th bids to record an unprecedented third success in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Star Catcher was coming off a win in the Irish Oaks, the Irish equivalent of our Prix de Diane, and the British handler said: “The filly doesn't have to race from the front, but Frankie Dettori preferred to take matters into his own hands by making the running - granted that no one was keen to go on! He's a genius. This win is down to him, the filly herself and her owner-breeder. As regards going for the Arc, we will have to wait and see. …” Anthony Oppenheimer indicated that the chances of his filly tackling the Arc are slim, and she was never entered in the big ParisLongchamp prize.
Regarding Musis Amica, she has the choice of three engagements on the Arc de Triomphe weekend at the beginning of October and namely: the Qatar Prix de Royallieu, the Prix de l’Opéra Longines and the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Connections have yet to make a definitive choice...
THE OVERSEAS SCENE
Magical shows her mettle
Leopardstown (Irlande) staged the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Gr1) on Saturday, which is also one of the conduits to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Magical (Galileo), the hot favorite, carried the day at the main expense of her two stablemates from the Aidan O’Brien yard, and which similarly race in the colours of the racing superpower that is Coolmore, and namely Magic Wand (Galileo) and Anthony Van Dyck (Galileo). Magical failed to make her presence felt in the 2018 edition of the Arc but, since then, she has finished second on three occasions to Enable (Nathaniel), having given the latter something of a fright in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. She is no forlorn hope in the ParisLongchamp feature. Regarding Anthony Van Dyck, the colt may head directly to Santa Anita which would entail bypassing the « Arc ». In addition to Magical, Aidan O’Brien’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe team is expected to include Japan (Galileo) and Broome (Galileo). The latter has been acquired by the Japanese owner, Masaaki Matsushima, and will be ridden by the Japanese superstar Yutaka Take.
The Doncaster St Leger was run on Saturday, September 14. The oldest of the British classics won’t supply the Arc winner, as Logician (Frankel), now unbeaten in five starts, isn’t entered in the big race at ParisLongchamp.