Zarak shows zip to put himself firmly in Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe reckoning

Sun 2 Jul 2017

By Tom Peacock

Perhaps the horse most likely to win a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on breeding drew a little closer to becoming reality as Zarak gained his first Group One win in a dramatic Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

Sired by Dubawi and the first foal of Zarkava - the unbeaten filly whose career culminated in France’s showpiece event in 2008 - to hit the track, Zarak has always had a lot to live up to. Indeed, he was in danger of becoming something of a talented underachiever, suffering close defeats in the likes of the French Derby, Dubai Turf and Prix Ganay.

This was his first attempt at a mile and a half and he benefitted from Christophe Soumillon’s decision to keep him wide and out of trouble. Further inside, the chief victim of scrimmaging around the two-furlong marker was Gregory Benoist and Doha Dream.

He and Pierre-Charles Boudot, aboard Andre Fabre stablemate and eventual third Armande, were going for the same gap and Benoist lost out and was deposited on the turf. Benoist was seen moving after the spill but missed his other rides.

This was the point at which Hawkbill, last year’s Coral-Eclipse winner, was beginning to back-pedal from his position disputing the lead as well as the stage Christophe Soumillon began to prime the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Zarak for his run.

Silverwave, the hardy five-year-old, gave a determined effort to defend his crown but Zarak finished with too much zip, scoring by three-quarters of a length. Clive Cox’s My Dream Boat stayed on to snare fourth.

BetVictor introduced Zarak at 14-1 for the Arc in a market headed by his French Derby conqueror Almanzor, who could reappear in the Sky Bet York Stakes on July 29. With Wings Of Eagles retired on Sunday and a less than positive update from Aidan O’Brien about stablemate Minding, he could yet enter the equation.

“Last time, he ran a bad race because the ground was much too firm and also because he definitely prefers a flat track and he didn’t like the uphill and downhill of Chantilly,” said Royer-Dupre according to Thoroughbred Daily News.

“I always had a slight doubt about him getting a mile and a half, but he answered that question today and deserved that. Last year, he was twice beaten only a little by Almanzor, so the form was there. We’ll now give him a break, but as the Arc is this year again at Chantilly, as is the Foy, I don’t really know where he will go at the moment.”

Harry Dunlop’s Robin Of Navan was eased home eighth of the nine finishers, with the trainer tweeting that “he hurt himself but hopefully nothing serious”.

There was no better luck for the three British runners in the supporting Prix de Malleret.

A Group Two over the same course and distance for three-year-old fillies, it does not have the most distinguished role of honour but went to Fabre for the eighth occasion with Godolphin’s promising Strathspey catching Freddy Head’s Listen In on the line.

Running on for third was the John Gosden-trained Elas Ruby, ahead of Andrew Balding’s Oaks fourth Horseplay, with Vintage Folly dropping right away for Hugo Palmer and William Buick.


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