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Never mind the Rugby World Cup in France, all eyes will be on Longchamp in Paris on Sunday for the running of Europe’s most prestigious horse race, the Qatar Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe with a first prize of £2.3m (R54m).

This column was sweet on 7-1 chance Hukum for the King George at Ascot in July and he is second favourite behind the main French hope, Ace Impact. The only worry about Owen Burrows’ runner is that no six-year-old has ever won the Arc.

Perhaps another French horse, Feed The Flame, could be the answer and he’s the top choice to beat Hukum, Ace Impact and Westover. The quartet double floating Feed The Flame and Hukum with as many runners as possible appeals as an attractive bet.

A guide to the principal runners courtesy of UK Sporting Life:

Westover: The 2022 Irish Derby winner was a creditable sixth in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but he has improved at four, winning his first Group 1 since the Curragh in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July. Well backed for the King George after that, going off 7/1, he laid down a strong challenge, staying on with purpose before being beaten a head by Hukum, who may have benefited from Jim Crowley breaking the whip rules more than Rob Hornby did. Ralph Beckett is reportedly happy with his preparations after an away day at Salisbury and this son of Frankel is right in the mix.

Hukum: Baaeed’s full-brother has stepped out of his shadows in style this season, recovering from injury to prove himself better than ever. He beat Derby winner Desert Crown fair and square on his return, but improved even on that effort when landing a barnstorming renewal of the King George at Ascot in July after a terrific duel with Westover. Purposely kept away from the track since then, he goes really well after a break and, for all that he’s versatile groundwise, he won’t mind how much rain falls in Paris in the build-up, so he has excellent claims on his first visit to ParisLongchamp.

Place Du Carroussel: We come to André Fabre’s Arc horse as the veteran trainer bids for a record-extending ninth success in the race with Place Du Carrousel. The Lope De Vega filly beat Nashwa at the 2022 meeting in the Prix de l’Opera on very soft ground, perhaps an indication she needs such conditions to perform at her very best. She is building nicely towards an Arc tilt, having won on good to soft at Deauville and in the Prix Foy at Longchamp on her last two starts, but she needs to find more again if she is to win an Arc.

Free Wind: Frankie Dettori bids farewell to Paris on Free Wind for John and Thady Gosden as he looks for a fairytale ending in a race he has won six times aboard Lammtarra, Sakhee, Marienbard, Golden Horn and Enable (twice). Free Wind wouldn’t be in the same class as any of those, but she did look a Group 1 winner-in-waiting earlier in her career only for connections to shy away from the top level until the Yorkshire Oaks last time. She ran a belter at York, finishing a head second to Warm Heart who subsequently won the Prix Vermeille, so there is hope in her most recent form that she has the tools to compete at this level.

Feed The Flame: Another strong French challenger who put his best foot forward when winning the Grand Prix de Paris in great style over the Arc course and distance in July, a length clear of Adelaide River with the Oaks winner Soul Sister back in third. He has more than six lengths to find with Ace Impact on their Prix du Jockey Club form, but the trip could help him on that score. His odds-on defeat in the Prix Niel looks far from the worst launchpad to an Arc challenge, as he was poorly positioned off a slow pace and he stayed on nicely for second on a day he was entitled to be rusty.

Ace Impact: Heads the home challenge after a superb year, only making his debut on the Cagnes-Sur-Mer polytrack at the end of January and he remains unbeaten, winning the Prix du Jockey Club in tremendous style among five victories. He was given a midsummer break after Chantilly by Jean-Claude Rouget, who avoided the temptation of the Irish Champion Stakes in preference for keeping him fresh for the Arc. He returned at Deauville in mid-August for the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano where he beat Al Riffa despite pulling hard in the early stages.

Continuous: He has been supplemented by Aidan O’Brien after his St Leger victory at Doncaster just more than two weeks before the Arc and he suddenly gives Ballydoyle an iron in the fire. The son of Heart’s Cry has thrived following a two-month break after Royal Ascot, running away with the Great Voltigeur and the season’s final Classic —  and it’s no surprise to see him diverted to Paris. Stamina looks a strong suit, but he has the gears to drop back in trip and he’s improved enormously since being put in his place by Ace Impact at Chantilly in June. He’ll have to improve again to win this, but he could.

If Charles Dickens runs in Saturday’s Matchem Stakes — Candice Bass-Robinson is sure to inspect the Durbanville track — the price of 3-10 might be generous.


(Durbanville, Saturday)

1st Race: (3) Tenango (11) Magic Verse (10) Celtic Chief (2) Lord Saye

2nd Race: (12) Foudre (6) Lindbergh (5) Moremi Gorge (14) Oliver

3rd Race: (7) School Policy (6) Time For Love (10) Lickety Split (11) Flamboyant Flyer

4th Race: (5) Avignon (4) Marshall Field (3) Global Movement (7) Lord Fyfield

5th Race: (12) Scalini (8) San Pedro (4) Zoomie (7) Prevalence

6th Race: (3) Charles Dickens (1) Gimme A Prince (6) Royal Aussie (2) After The Rain

7th Race: (6) Golden Hostess (8) Happy Chance (4) Cala Muretta (2) Miss Marguerite

8th Race: (11) Bonanza (6) Highly Confidential (7) Elusive Trader (5) Musical Arts

9th Race: (14) Double Grand Slam (9) La Divina (10) Winter Rainfall (5) Lady Look Alike

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