Flintshire set to deny Japanese their Arc dream
Flintshire can give trainer Andre Fabre his eighth win in Europe`s most prestigious race, the Prix de l`Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday and frustrate Japanese dreams of winning the prize they desire most in the `Sport of Kings`.
Paris: Flintshire can give trainer Andre Fabre his eighth win in Europe`s most prestigious race, the Prix de l`Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday and frustrate Japanese dreams of winning the prize they desire most in the `Sport of Kings`.
Fabre, who already holds the record as the trainer with most wins in the race, last saddled the winner in 2006 with Rail Link, who was drawn in stall four the same one Flintshire drew, and on that occasion the Japanese too had high hopes only for Deep Impact to finish third.
Flintshire, whose owner Prince Khaled Abdullah also owned Rail Link, was an eyecatching second in the Prix Foy last time out, and with Fabre being a master at preparing horses for the Arc, and the ground set to be good, it suggests that everything has come right for him.
"He hasn`t won this season but he was second in the Coronation Cup beaten by perhaps the best horse in Europe, Cirrus des Aigles," said Abdullah`s French racing manager Claude Beniada.
"Last year he didn`t get the ground he liked in the Arc (he finished eighth in heavy ground) but this year he has good ground. He is a classy sort and his run in the Foy was a good trial."
Japan provide three in the maximum field of 20, all of them Group One winners, in the shape of the Naosuke Sugai-trained five-year-old duo Gold Ship and Just A Way, and three-year-old filly Harp Star, trained by veteran Hiroyoshi Matsuda.
All three have got decent draws but doubts remain over whether they can improve on Japan`s record of four runners-up placings.
Gold Ship and Just A Way will have to defy their age, no five-year-old has won since Marienbard in 2002, while question marks exist over whether the latter will stay the 1 1/2 mile (2400m) trip.
However, Just A Way`s jockey Yuichi Fukunaga is adamant that the horse he guided to a hugely impressive 6 1/2 length victory in the Dubai Duty Free in Dubai in March (1mile 1 furlong/1800m) is capable of ending Japan`s 47 year quest to win the Arc.
"Victory in the Arc is the dream and the goal of the Japanese people," said the 37-year-old two-time champion Japanese jockey.
"I waited a long time to have a ride that is good enough to race in the Arc and now I have struck lucky and I hope to seize this opportunity for the Japanese people."
English trainer John Gosden has also fallen short in the Arc but he arrives with perhaps his best chance yet in the shape of Taghrooda, winner of both the Epsom Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
She suffered her first and as yet only defeat at the hands of Tapestry, who was supplemented for the Arc by trainer Aidan O`Brien, last time out in the Yorkshire Oaks but Gosden remains upbeat.
"She handles any ground around good -- not very soft and certainly not like a road. She`s not over-raced and I think being a three-year-old filly is a big factor, although Just A Way could be exceptional if he stays. It`s an open race this year."
Gosden will hope that Taghrooda performs as brilliantly as Treve did last year, as then a three-year-old she destroyed a high class field.
This year has been an entirely different story for Treve, who has failed to win in her three starts but trainer Criquette Head-Maarek insists she can become the first horse since Alleged in 1977/78 to win successive Arcs.
Head-Maarek, whose grandfather William Head and father Alec trained two and four Arc winners respectively, while brother Freddie won three as a jockey, was also not best pleased by Frankie Dettori`s claim her star had lost her mental edge.
"We will prove on Sunday he (Dettori) is wrong," said Head-Maarek, who upset Dettori when she replaced him on Treve before her last run in the Prix Vermeille.
Dettori will still have a chance to win his fourth Arc as he is aboard last year`s Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World while the French have strong hopes too with Ectot and unbeaten filly Avenir Certain.