ROBERT COOPER OFF THE BOX
TV celebrity with fancies for weekend
Paris on the first weekend of October is sans doute the place to be. The spanking new facilities at Longchamp will be put to the test tomorrow on the only day of the year when they are truly tried out. For some bizarre reason, today’s excellent card receives ‘le cold-shoulder’ from the local punters although there will be plenty from these shores making the trek via the trusty Eurostar.
I met one such enthusiast by the cold meats counter at my local branch of Sainsbury’s in Chipping Norton. He could hardly contain his excitement as he pondered the ham slices on offer.
He will not be alone, in anticipating a victory for ENABLE [3.05 LONGCHAMP/Sunday] to make it an expenses paid jaunt. The new grandstands will be packed to the rafters and there are bound to be some truly long and horse-shaped faces if John Gosden’s filly fails to deliver, and they could become even more elongated if BATTAASH [4.25 LONGCHAMP/Sun] fails to haul punters from the mire if ENABLE gets turned over.
It’s a strange one. I haven’t had a cent on ENABLE but have invested (probably the wrong word) a few Euros on both WALDGEIST (stall 13) and SEA OF CLASS (stall 15). While ENABLE and Frankie Dettori are sitting pretty in stall 6, my duo is up against it, when forced to travel near ‘le car-parc’ and Boudot and Doyle [weren’t they in the TV cop show The Professionals in?] will hope to slot in without forfeiting too much ground.
In recent times only GOLDEN HORN in 2015 has overcome such a wide berth, and that was chiefly down to an utterly ‘magnifique’ ride from Dettori – probably the finest of his record five Arcs.
Victory for ENABLE would also merit a mammoth achievement by her trainer; it’s been a near nightmare for John Gosden actually getting his filly to the racecourse this year. Her belated seasonal debut was at Kempton last month when she trounced CRYSTAL OCEAN who had previously gone down by a neck in the King George Ascot, one of the top races of the year.
It was a brilliant performance from ENABLE and it will take an extraordinary performance to prevent her following in TREVE’S famous hoofprints in 2013 and 2014.
So, as far as betting goes, I will stray into reverse exacta territory. ENABLE, SEA OF CLASS and WALDGEIST are the trio. I was impressed by SEA OF CLASS’ victory in the Yorkshire Oaks, but even more so by WALDGEIST’s impressive acceleration to win the Prix Foy over course and distance last month. His trainer Andre Fabre has won an astonishing seven Arcs but none since RAIL LINK in 2006. The master trainer appears to have produced WALDGEIST pitch-perfect for another triumph – he looks ENABLE’s most serious rival.
Very few juveniles have impressed me more than Richard Hannon’s BOITRON [155 LONGCHAMP/Sunday] who must have more than a sporting chance of beating the two market principals, ANTHONY VAN DYCK and ANODOR in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
My confidence stems purely from the visual impression of his three victories rather than the quality of rivals he beat. BOITRON is clearly thriving and he looks sure to run well.
Back home today we’re not short of some high quality racing. At Newmarket the Group One Sun Chariot Stakes looks well up to standard. Andre Fabre runs WIND CHIMES here rather than in Paris and she ran her best race of the season last time in the ‘Moulin’ at Longchamp.
Karl Burke’s outstandingly robust filly LAURENS turned over a below-par ALPHA CENTAURI at Leopardstown and she’ll battle all the way from the front. Although two lengths adrift of LAURENS in Ireland, I reckon CLEMMIE [3.15 NEWMARKET] could be returning to the level of form that saw her win the Cheveley Park Stakes last autumn. Her trainer Aidan O’Brien runs three, but CLEMMIE gets the Ryan Moore seal of approval. She also looks a filly to bear in mind for the Breeders’ Cup next month.
There’s another ‘moth in the headlights’ irresistible handicap at Ascot and several old friends, or maybe fiends, are in the 18-runner line-up.
It’s fascinating that top Irish apprentice Ben Coen has been booked for FLAMING SPEAR, however the Dean Ivory stable is going through a quiet spell. RIP ORF loves it at Ascot and also has the assistance of a talented apprentice, Jason Watson. GILGAMESH showed a return to form last weekend, so too did ESCOBAR but the forecast rain may lessen his solid chances. SHADY McCOY [3.35 ASCOT] will be my each-way bet, he’s gone close a few times this season, including at Ascot, but so far no cigar. He’s ultra consistent, hanat dles any ground and I’ll leave the rest to Jim Crowley.
The spotlight doesn’t often shine on Redcar but today’s Two Year Old Trophy is the high point of their season. I’ve been on the course a few times when STRICT TEMPO [2.45 REDCAR] has raced and my overall impression is that she’s improving with every outing. She was very babyish on her first two starts, both at Bath, but still showed ability. Her latest race, when failing by a diminishing neck to win a hot nursery at Doncaster, convinces me that she’s still not the finished article; nevertheless I’m expecting further progress today.
Andrew Balding’s filly is half sister to DANCING STAR and FOXTROT LADY who was third in this event last year. Whichever side of the Channel you are punting, bon chance mes braves.
“Victory for ENABLE would merit a mammoth achievement by her trainer; it’s been a near nightmare for John Gosden actually getting his filly to the racecourse this year”
Looking pitch-perfect: Waldgeist is Enable’s most serious rival
Master: Andre Fabre