The first Sunday in October means a not-to-miss date in the diary for all racing fans as Paris in the autumn heralds the arrival of the magisterial Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on October 6.
In what has been a generally disappointing Flat season with little in the way of quality among the classic crop and a humdrum collection of older horses, it may well be that the Arc rides to the rescue courtesy of what promises to be a vintage renewal of Europe's greatest and most lucrative race.
Indeed, if the evidence of Longchamp's traditional trials' day remains an accurate guide then surely some of the world's best middle-distance horses are set to lock horns on the Bois de Bologne in just over a week's time. Sadly none of the top Arc contenders hails from Britain or Ireland and this year's race looks at the mercy of the French and Japanese.
I suspect that this time around the Japanese will at long last capture the Arc and duly rid themselves of all those troubling memories of near-misses that began with El Condor Pasa in 1999 and plumbed new depths with Orfevre's agonising defeat twelve months ago.
The Japanese superstar Orfevre bids to atone for several near-misses by himself and his compatriots in Europe's greatest race and the zip that he showed to quicken up and land the Prix Foy last time suggests he should go very close to giving Japan its first ever Arc winner. Happily for the Japanese, he will be joined by fellow countryman Kizuna, a most impressive winner of the Prix Niel on Arc trials day.
The rest of the Arc card features six more Group 1 races with Justineo looking an intriguing contender for the Prix de l'Abbaye over the minimum trip. Today's sprinters are a ragbag bunch and usually they take turns to beat each other over 5f and 6f, and Roger Varian's charge is like a breath of fresh of air in a stale sprinting division and could well come out on top.
After the Arc weekend it is another jam-packed feast of racing at Newmarket on October 12. The Cesarewitch holds pride of place on a superb card and this brutal test of stamina has always been a hard race to win but this time around the Charles Byrnes-trained Domination should be in with a big shout following a promising prep run at Galway the other day.
On the same card Toofi rates a reasonable fancy for the Middle Park Stakes. I have not been particularly impressed with this season's two-year-old crop and maybe the Group 1 contest will throw up a potentially high-class prospect. Roger Varian's colt looked a smart type when scoring at Newmarket the other day.
In the Dewhurst Stakes all eyes will be upon Aidan O'Brien, who currently has 13 of the 30 entries for the influential end-of-term prize that is traditionally annexed by fellow countryman, Jim Bolger, who may well bid for a remarkable fifth success in this Group1 prize courtesy of the unraced and unknown quantity, Fiscal Focus.
The main domestic Flat action of the month switches to Ascot for Champions Day on October 19 when the Champions Stakes takes pride of place on a fantastic card. Sadly Intello's bid for that race has been derailed by his trainer's decision to run his colt in the Arc and his unfortunate absence would seriously weaken the Champion Stakes line-up.
On October 26 the month's action comes to an end with the jumps season edging nearer to centre stage with Aintree's two-day Old Roan Chase meeting on October 26 and 27 while Chepstow stages the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle on the 27th, the same day that Doncaster plays host to the Racing Post Trophy on Town Moor.
Malcolm Heyhoe writes weekly horse racing articles for GG.COM-Horse racing betting, information, news, results and free daily tips
Archive September 2013
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