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Alpha Centauri Is A Star Performer
UK Horse Racing

Alpha Centauri Is A Star Performer

The bookies haven’t priced up many of August’s International Races so, as well as taking a look at the Jaques Le Marois, the Winx Stakes, and the Travers Stakes, we’re taking an ante-post look at the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.

Jacques Le Marois (Sunday 12 August)

The Jacques Le Marois is one of France’s most prestigious Group 1 races having been established in 1921. It is open to colts and fillies aged three or older and is run over 1,600 metres (one mile) at Deauville. The winner of the 2018 Jacques Le Marois will also get an invite to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

The race has an enviable role of honour, with Miesque and Spinning World both winning the it twice.

Meanwhile, notable horses that have also engraved their name on the trophy include Polish Precedent, Hector Protector, Sayyedati, Dubai Millenium, Banks Hill, Whipper, Dubawi, Manduro, Excelebration, Moonlight Cloud, Kingman, Esoterique, and Ribchester.

French-trained horses have mainly dominated the race, though it’s interesting that English or Irish trained horses have won three of the last six renewals. Therefore, it’s no surprise Alpha Centauri has been installed as favourite after demolition jobs in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Royal Ascot and Newmarket’s July Meeting on her last three starts. Named after the star closest to our solar system – she’s expected to show her star quality by seeing off the likes of Recoletos and Olmedo.

Winx Stakes (Saturday 18 August)

2018 sees the inaugural running of the Winx Stakes, a new Group 1 race that replaces the former Group 2 race known as the Warwick Stakes, that was first established in 1923. The race remains open to horses aged three and older and will continue to be run at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. It is run over 1,400 metres and is a weight-for-age race. Winners of the Warwick Stakes include Amounis, Chatham, High Caste, Flight, Tulloch, Sky High, Kingston Town, Super Impose, Shaftsbury Avenue, and Lonhro.

Meanwhile, the last two editions of the race were won by the mighty mare Winx who, of course, the Winx Stakes has been named after. Winx has been installed as the 1/10 favourite to win the first edition of her own race, with her main rivals (if she has any) including Kementai, Dargento, and Happy Clapper.

Travers Stakes (Saturday 18 August)

The Travers Stakes, also known as the Mid-Summer Derby, is a Grade 1 race run at Saratoga Racecourse in New York, USA. It is one of the most desired prizes in American Racing, and stands only behind the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in the pecking order.

The race was established in 1896 and is run over a distance of 10-furlongs. The race reads like a who’s who of American Racing, with a role of honour that includes the likes of Arrogate, Keen Ice, Will Take Charge, Lemon Drop Kid, and Thunder Gulch. In the sad absence of this year’s now retired Triple Crown hero Justify, Good Magic has been installed as favourite in front of his main market rival Holburg. The only other two horses priced-up in double-figures are Firenze Fire and the ex-English trained Gronkowski.

Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (Sunday 7 October)

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe may be three months away but, as ever, it’s already looking like being one of the most interesting races of the entire season. Not only is the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe the world’s third most lucrative horse race, but it also brings together the best of Europe’s classic generations and older horses over a trip of 12-furlongs, as well as the occasional runner from further afield. First run in 1920, the big-race returns to Longchamp for the 2018 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, after a two-year spell at Chantilly.

The names of the winners of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe simply trip off the tongue, Enable, Found, Golden Horn, Treve, Workforce, Sea The Stars, Zarkava, Hurricane Run, Sakhee, Sinndar, Montjeu, Lammtara, Urban Sea, Dancing Brave, Rainbow Quest, Alleged, Rheingold, Mill Reef, Sea Bird, and Ribot.

Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe 10-Year-Trends

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe has thrown up some interesting trends over the last few years, none more so than seven of the last 10 winners have been fillies. Meanwhile, the three colts to have won in the last decade, Workforce, Sea The Stars, and Golden Horn had all won the English Derby that season. Seven of the last 10 winners have also been three-year-olds, though only four of the last 10 winners were three-year-old fillies. Meanwhile, only horses from Europe have been successful, with four winners being trained in France, three trained in England, two trained in Ireland, and one trained in Germany. Notably, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori have teamed up to win two of the last three renewals.

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Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe 2018 Main Contenders

John Gosden four-year-old filly was an absolute superstar last season as she racked up a series of Group 1 wins that included The Oaks, The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and last year’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. She won last year’s race very easily and, if she turns up in the same sort of form on the big day this year, she will surely take an awful lot of beating. However, though she is reportedly back in training, she has missed all of the season so far, so backing her at this stage does come with risks. However, she’s also currently five-times the price she was last year, so that risk may be worth taking.

John Gosden also has a powerful second-string to his bow in the shape of Cracksman, though the son of Frankel has raced lazily on his last two starts, being it that he has finished first and second in those two Group 1’s. He was beaten by Poet’s Word at Royal Ascot, but that horse franked the form by winning another Group 1 next time, so he must have a chance. He would probably relish some cut in the ground come race day.

Poet’s Word
Sir Michael Stoute’s prowess when it comes to improving older horses is legendary, but Stoute’s only winner of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe was the three-year-old Workforce. Therefore, though Poet’s Word won the 2018 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last time, he probably has his work cut out to win Europe’s biggest race.

Crystal Ocean
Stoute is another English trainer that also has a top-class second-string to call upon in the shape of Crystal Ocean. The four-year-old was considered Stoute’s Derby hopeful in 2017, but has come into his own this year by notching up a hat-trick before narrowly losing out to stablemate Poet’s Word in a driving finish last time. However, like his stablemate, he must overcome several key statistics to win.

This year’s Derby winner Masar doesn’t look in the same league as the last two Derby winners to win the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, and he needs to prove that he’s over whatever ailment kept him out of the Eclipse. However, he’s also shown he can handle a variety of ground conditions, so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the weather unless the ground turns very heavy. Trainer Charlie Appleby hasn’t won a Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe but he has enjoyed Group 1 success at the two-day Arc Meeting before. Owners Godolphin also won the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in both 2001 and 2002.

Sea Of Class
William Haggas has always held this daughter of Sea The Stars in the highest regard and, though she still needs to improve quite a bit on the form of her win in the Irish Oaks, she has had only four career starts. The record of fillies in recent renewals also suggests she could go close.

Saxon Warrior
It’s hard to believe that any horse that was sent-off at odds-on for the English Derby is 20/1 for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, but he blotted his copybook there and since been beaten in both the Irish Derby and the Eclipse Stakes. It will be interesting to see how connections train him in the next few months, but he may miss the race.

Wild Illusion
Another of this season’s three-year-old fillies and she was mightily impressive when winning what was probably only an average renewal of the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. The ten-furlong trip also seemed to suit her ideally that day and she may just lack the stamina to win a Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.

Forever Together
Another three-year-old filly that looks overpriced is Aidan O’Brien’s 2018 Oaks winner Forever Together and, though she was disappointing when second in the Irish Oaks, she probably didn’t appreciate the good-to-firm ground that day. However, she looked really impressive when winning the Oaks on soft ground and it often comes up soft on Arc day.

Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe 2018 Ante-Post Tip

Forever Together @ 25/1

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