Updated: Oct 5, 2019
Four of the leading five players in this years Arc are all previous course and distance winners. However one in particular will surely be favoured over the others where the weights, times and going are concerned based on the evidence in front of us.
Firstly just looking very crassly, the bare winning times, all C&D wins over 1m4f Longchamp - Listed below are the weight carried -horse name - winning time - ground.
9-2 Japan 2m 27.07 - Good to soft
9-2 Sottass 2m 27.46 - Good
9-2 Waldgeist 2m 27.57 - Good
9-2 Enable 2m 29.24 - Good
All four above carried 9stone 2lb when winning so there are no adjustments to the times to be made other than Sundays allowances.
It could be argued that Enable wasn't fully match fit when clocking that time when winning the 2018 Arc hence her time is slowest and the way the race was run may not have ensured a track record anyway with Nelson and Capri setting the pace. Also the 2017 Arc win the previous year was at a different track but she did have the WFA allowance then.
She has been an incredible advert for racing and she has done us several favours but Sunday will be the first time I have ever opposed her and it's based on the above chart. It's not that I think she can't win, of course she can, it's more a case of better value elsewhere on the evidence in front of us and at 8/11 makes no appeal.
Waldegeist will carry 9-5 and I feel he will find it hard to give Enable 3lb as he had to in last years Arc when 4th although didn't get the clearest of runs in his defence. However he was again held on the same terms in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (Group 1) at Ascot and can see no reason why he could turn the tables.
Sottass gets the 3YO WFA allowance off her and comes into the reckoning but he will be off level weights (8-13) with Japan who went 0.39 secs quicker over C&D on slower ground than he did and it would be a big swing on the clock to beat his fellow 3 year old rival.
Japan has clocked by far the quickest time when winning the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Group 1) and he done so on the slowest ground of the four in the above chart (good to soft ground), the other three winners were on good ground yet in theory they should have been quicker.
Also he gets 3lb off Enable (and 6lb off Waldgeist) and simply has to enter calculations. In addition he ran what arguably may be his best race yet LTO when beating Crystal Ocean over an inadequate trip on ground arguably too quick (admittedly getting 7lb) when landing the hat-trick at York. The run before landing those 3 wins (two Group 1's and a Group 2) he was a fast finishing 3rd in the Epsom Derby, having been ridden for the final 5f downhill on the fast Epsom track.
Some of you will be quick to point out Enable beat Crytal Ocean getting 3lb sex allowance whereas Japan was getting 7lb WFA when beating him. However as mentioned already that was 10f not 12f on quicker ground than this weekends and don't forget he gets 3lb off Enable so on those lines of form make it extremely close between them and more importantly ignores the fact Japan went 2.14 seconds quicker over C&D and on slower ground than Enable did.
Of those without C&D form Ghaiyyath may be the dark horse, held in very high regard and bar the run when he blotted his copy book in April he looks a serious animal. His previous run at the course was impressive (10f) as was the run after in Germany when winning a Group 1 by a monster margin of 14 lengths. Good ground and I'd be keener but over 12f on slower ground it muddies the water a little and makes him a more risky proposition. The price seems right considering everything but he is still one to keep an eye on and one I fear a lot if he handles the ground. Another who will attract the 'Hollywood' bets is Nagano Gold (80/1) after going down as the most unlucky loser at this years Royal Ascot meeting. Badly hampered leaving the stalls and losing several lengths he then got back into contention with ease before he ran into a wall of horses before staying on strongly, finishing a desperatly unlucky 2nd. Whilst the 80/1 price is appealing this is a whole different ball of wax and he will do well to upset the proven Group 1 machines despite the obvious appeal.
In summary JAPAN is improving at such a rate that with the weight allowance, perfect conditions, his C&D times added with the fact Enable is 8/11 and he is 6/1 make it a no brainer. The odds equate to a 57.9% chance Enable wins yet only a 14.3% chance for Japan and yet they are weighted to be neck and neck at the line but the 'clock' argument is even more compelling. I will, as always, go for the value and overrule my heart and back Japan each way at 6/1. Please remember I am not a Bambi killer or an 'Enable knocker', we Napped her last year for the Arc at 11/10 and have never opposed her before. Even Frankie Dettori when asked who is the main danger to Enable replied "Japan"citing the WFA allowance and the fact he is already a dual Group 1 winner at 3 years old !! Enable will run a massive race again on her final ever race before she enters the breeding paddocks and this will be an amazing finale to her career should she win or not. She owes nobody anything, win or lose, we will miss her.
Sunday 6th October 2019 - 3.05pm Longchamp- Prix de LArc de Triomphe
JAPAN - 6/1 Each Way - Skybet 4 places (William Hill/PaddyPower/Beftred 6/1 but only 3 places) (posted 7.30pm 4/11/2019)