Stradivarius gets the opportunity to rubber-stamp his Arc claims in the Prix Foy at Longchamp on Sunday.
John Gosden’s popular chestnut has dominated the staying scene over the past three seasons, with a hat-trick of wins in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and a record four Goodwood Cups meaning his status as a great of the division is already assured.
However, with Bjorn Nielsen keen on a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this year, Stradivarius drops back in distance in a recognised trial for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest over the same course and distance.
“He’s sharpened up as a stronger, more powerful horse. He’s not what I call a big, one-paced staying type at all – he’s got a lot of speed this horse, so we’re looking forward to running him over a mile and a half,” said Gosden.
“He’s in good form and I’m very happy with him. He’s worked nicely.”
Stradivarius proved he is capable of mixing it at the top level over a mile and a half when third behind Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup earlier in the season.
Frankie Dettori is on board this weekend, but is expected to partner stable companion Enable in the Arc as she goes in search of a historic third victory in the race.
Gosden has admitted to tweaking Stradivarius’ training ahead of his first trip across the Channel.
He added: “We don’t know how the race will be run – these French trials can just be run from the head of the straight. We’ll leave it to Frankie, but we couldn’t be more pleased with the horse.
“We have trained him to sharpen him a bit, but he’s wanted to and let us do it. He has sharpened in his work, which was very much the plan, but we haven’t done anything dramatically different because he rather likes the way he’s been trained.”
Ger Lyons told us more about Even So after her Irish Oaks victory
Among the five horses taking on Stradivarius is Aidan O’Brien’s Anthony Van Dyck, who was second in the Coronation Cup before finishing only fifth when favourite for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. Mickael Barzalona takes the ride.
The fillies get their chance to shine in the Prix Vermeille, for which Jean-Claude Rouget’s Raabihah is a hot favourite.
Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa and the Ger Lyons-trained Irish Oaks winner Even So carry Irish hopes, while Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot and David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight represent Britain.
Dame Malliot impressed in the Group Two Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket in July before finishing third in a German Group One under Hollie Doyle. Dettori takes over in the saddle this weekend.
Vaughan said: “I’m delighted to have Frankie available to ride. He came and had a sit on her earlier in the week and I was very pleased.
“The filly seems in very good form. Hollie felt she didn’t handle the track that well in Germany and said the ground rode quite rough. They’re talking about good ground on Sunday, which will be fine, and a big, galloping track like Longchamp should suit.”
Impressive Investec Derby winner Serpentine finally gets the chance to prove his Classic success was no fluke in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris.
Watch a full replay of Serpentine's remarkable Derby success
O’Brien’s Galileo colt turned up at Epsom an unconsidered outsider, having broken his maiden tag only seven days previously.
However, given a bold front-running ride by Emmet McNamara, he powered on to win by more five lengths from Khalifa Sat – and has not been seen in competitive action since.
“We always thought he was a very smart middle-distance horse, and even though he only had one run at two – and the run looked very ordinary – we were very happy with his work at home,” said O’Brien.
“He was a horse that was very relentless in his work and would go an even, strong gallop and would not surrender – and that’s the way he’s always been.
“We had to give him a good break (after the Derby), and he’s done very well – physically he’s really rounded off since then. It will be a run to get him started back, and we’ll see where we go after that.
“Obviously a race like the Arc or something like that would be possible – but either way, we’re hoping we might have him for next year.”
While the validity of the Derby form was questioned in the aftermath, O’Brien is adamant Serpentine was the winner on merit.
He added: “He’s a solid horse, and I wouldn’t be fooled by what anyone thinks about Epsom – whatever race he runs in, if he makes the running you just need to go and follow him, because he just doesn’t come back. He’s relentless, and that’s the way he is.
“I heard everyone saying about Epsom and him getting a clear lead and all that kind of stuff, and he did – but I don’t think there was anyone pulling or dragging too much to stay back off him, that’s the way he is.
“He’s solid, you don’t have to hide anything about him. He’s very happy to go a strong gallop – and if he’s not able to get to the front that will be all the better for him, because that means the gallop will be good and strong and he’ll probably even be better doing that rather than having to make his own running all the time.”
Serpentine is joinedby a pair of stable companions in Nobel Prize and Mogul, while British hopes are carried by Ed Walker’s Derby fifth English King – the mount of Frankie Dettori – and Highland Chief, who was supplemented by Paul and Oliver Cole.
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