Sottsass the French hope for Arc

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - By Mar­cus Army­tage

When En­able won her first Prix de l’arc de Tri­om­phe at Chan­tilly two years ago she was one of 18 run­ners. Last year, back at Longchamp, she was one of 19, but for her at­tempt to win an un­prece­dented third Arc on Sun­day there will be only a dozen run­ners.

While that does not to­tally negate the ef­fect of a bad draw, it lessens it and Frankie Det­tori will hope that Khalid bin Ab­dul­lah’s mare is al­lot­ted a stall be­tween three and nine in to­day’s draw.

At yes­ter­day’s for­feit stage, Ai­dan O’brien scratched An­thony Van Dyck, who is now be­ing aimed at the Breed­ers’ Cup, while Jean-claude Rouget, who is re­spon­si­ble for the big French hope Sottsass, sup­ple­mented a sec­ond run­ner, Soft Light.

“He’s a nice horse, but he is not our first chance,” he said of the Soft Light, the colt whose best ef­fort this sea­son was when he fin­ished four lengths be­hind Ja­pan in the Grand Prix de Paris.

It is now five years since the French last won their flag­ship race – Treve in 2014 – but in Sottsass they ap­pear to have gen­uine hope of not hav­ing to put the lion’s share of the €5 mil­lion (£4.45 mil­lion) prize through a for­eign ex­change.

But while the Ir­ish colt Ja­pan has form which can be tied in to En­able, hav­ing beaten Crys­tal Ocean at York, Sottsass has never run against the older gen­er­a­tion. He is the je ne sais quoi in the race.

“That’s the sit­u­a­tion and this is a new chal­lenge for him,” said Rouget, who had fol­lowed the tra­di­tional French route to the Arc by giv­ing the colt a sum­mer hol­i­day af­ter Chan­tilly. “If we are do­ing May, June, July and Au­gust, it is hard to win in Oc­to­ber,” he said.

Rouget, who had his first run­ner in the 1994 Arc, but has yet to win it, brought Sottsass back in the Prix Niel and, af­ter be­ing hemmed in up most of the straight, he even­tu­ally burst through a gap to win.

“He didn’t have the right to lose that race but he nearly did be­cause of the way it panned out,” he said. “But it was a good thing be­cause he only raced for half a fur­long.”

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