John Gosden has expressed unease at the quality of the racing surface at ParisLongchamp ahead of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday week.
The racecourse underwent a £110million redevelopment after the Newmarket handler saddled Golden Horn to win Europe’s most prestigious race in 2015 but the turf has since consistently come under fire the course after it was re-opened in the spring.
The turf looked remarkably threadbare and patchy during the Arc Trials meeting ten days ago when jockeys such as Mickael Barzalona took a dim view of the course, and it is understood several trainers felt the surface was inconsistent at the meeting on Saturday when Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath won the Prix d’Orange.
Gosden intends to saddle defending champion Enable and stable companion Cracksman on October 7, with the filly trading at 5-4 to become an eighth dual winner and her stablemate no better than 7-1.
“I have enormous concern about the ground,” Gosden said.
“Two years the track was shut and they never looked at the track. I was shocked when I saw it in April, and I very much hope they have done their best to put it right.
“It is a concern to everybody.”
Gosden has not had a runner at the redeveloped racecourse since Cracksman prevailed in April in the Prix Ganay, a classy performance the horse has yet to match in two further runs this season in the Coronation Cup and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
“It probably didn’t get the care and attention it should have done,” Gosden added.
“You only had to see the reaction of the trainers in the spring and the concern still now. It is a bit late to reseed now, isn’t it?
Watch Kitesurf come from last to first in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp two weeks ago
Racinguk.com approached France Galop for comment but they did not respond. However Nicolas Clement, the President of the French Trainers Association, was upbeat despite also having his reservations.
"They are young roots and we all have to give it time to get better," he said.
"It is uneven in that there is kickback here but not kickback there.
"I have interviewed a lot of jockeys about this and they consider it safe, although it will not match somewhere like Newmarket or anything. It will be the same for every runner.
"I think they have it under control. They have been saving a patch of ground of more than 10 metres on the inner for the Arc."
Watch video analysis of Enable's return in the September Stakes at Kempton from The Verdict
The surface has suffered due to an uncharacteristically wet spring during which 11 race meetings were staged there in April and May. There was dismay in mid-May when the subsequent July Cup winner US Navy Flag slipped on the home turn before finishing fifth in the French 2,000 Guineas.
Christophe Soumillon, who rode Dice Roll to finish third to Olmedo, said at the time: “The ground is terrible. The track is full of divots and, although the penetrometer reading is 3.0 [good] you have the feeling you’re riding on 6.0 [very heavy]. To run a nice horse on ground which is full of holes is not great.”
The hot summer in turn made those problems difficult to rectify. Large sections of the turf were reseeded during the six-week summer break after the Grand Prix De Paris in July. Since the Arc Trials meeting the surface was again reseeded, fertilized and rolled, while an accelerating agent was applied before racing on Saturday.
In a report in Friday’s Racing Post, France Galop highlighted plans to undertake remedial work to the worst of the inconsistencies.
Are these your six best Arc De Triomphes? Watch the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe from ParisLongchamp live on Racing UK on Sunday, October 7.
Select any odd to add a bet