The horse racing world will hold its breath on Sunday at ParisLongchamp in France as Prince Khalid Abdullah’s 6-year-old mare Enable (GB) bids to become the first horse in history to win a third Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). The feature race is one of five Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on the card, along with the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines, Prix de l’Opera Longines, Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is comprised of more than 80 international stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into corresponding races of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 6-7.
The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), is set to be run on very soft ground following a week of heavy rain in the French capital. A field of 15 has been declared.
Enable, who became the first Arc winner to lift the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in 2018, will once again be partnered by Frankie Dettori, who holds a record six victories in the Arc.
Enable, the 11-time Group 1 winner, who is bidding to become the first horse over the age of five to win the Arc since 1932, has enjoyed a smooth preparation this season by finishing runner-up in the Coral-Eclipse (G1) before winning a third King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) at Ascot and second Unibet September Stakes (G3) at Kempton Park.
Her trainer, John Gosden, who is unable to travel to Paris to watch Enable due to quarantine restrictions, is satisfied with her preparation. He said: “I think Enable has found it more difficult – she’s older and bigger and heavier and getting to race fitness. I went gently at it. It was a struggle though, and when I ran her in the Eclipse, I was very clear with everyone beforehand that the race would put her right. She went there at 80%, and the race did put her right – she went and won the King George.”
Gosden, who himself has won the Arc three times, added: “She’s been in good form since, she had a nice breeze round in the September Stakes, nothing too taxing for her because the Arc has been the target all year. She’s happy and well in herself. Frankie breezed her on the round gallop on the Limekilns on Saturday and he was very pleased with her.”
Gosden will also saddle another 6-year-old in Stradivarius (IRE). Owned by Bjorn Nielsen, Stradivarius has dominated the stayers’ division in the UK for the past three years. His trial run for the Arc came over the same course and distance as Sunday’s race in the Sept. 13 Qatar Prix Foy (G2), where he finished a promising second.
Gosden said: “I’m very happy with him – he worked well on Saturday, with Rab Havlin on board, and he’s all ready to go. We’ve always thought of him as a top-of-the-ground horse, but he did somewhat surprise us in the Ascot Gold Cup this year.”
Due to the very soft ground forecast at ParisLongchamp this weekend, the ante-post favorite Love (IRE) was declared a non-runner by her trainer Aidan O’Brien on Thursday morning. Instead, she will likely head to Keeneland for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Her trainer said: “We’ll discuss it with the lads but I’d imagine the Breeders’ Cup will be the priority now – it’s one of the biggest grass races in the world.”
Despite Love’s non-participation, O’Brien will still be represented by four runners. Japan (GB) was fourth in last year’s race, but has so far struggled in 2020 to match the level of form he enjoyed in 2019. Meanwhile, his full-brother Mogul (GB) arrives in Paris in excellent form having won the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (G1) in his latest start. Behind Mogul that day was the runaway 2020 Investec Derby (G1) winner Serpentine (IRE), who will be ridden on Sunday by Christophe Soumillon. Last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner, Sovereign (IRE), is the final O’Brien representative.
Sottsass (FR) represents France’s leading hope this year. Third in the race last year under regular jockey Cristian Demuro, the half-brother to 2018 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Sistercharlie (IRE) finished fourth in his latest start in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1).
Another contender for the home team comes in the shape of IDEE 151st Deutsches Derby (G1) winner In Swoop (IRE). Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, In Swoop ran an eye-catching trial behind Mogul on his latest start. Raabihah (USA) was also second in her Arc trial and will look to give her trainer Jean-Claude Rouget a first win in the race. The Arc’s leading trainer, Andre Fabre, a winner of the race no fewer than eight times, will saddle Persian King (IRE) who won Prix de Moulin de Longchamp (G1) over 1-mile in his latest start.
O’Brien Seeks Ninth Success in Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere
The Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the US$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) has been won eight times by Aidan O’Brien. He saddles St Mark’s Basilica (FR), who finished third behind Thunder Moon (IRE) in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1) in his latest start.
Nando Parrado (GB) is the leading British contender in the field. The son of Kodiac (GB) was a shock winner of the Coventry Stakes (G2) before finishing runner-up behind Campanelle (IRE) in the Darley Prix Morny (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the US$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
Pretty Gorgeous heads field for Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches (G1)
Pretty Gorgeous (FR) looks to gain her place in this year’s US$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). The daughter of Lawman (FR) narrowly missed out in the “Win and You’re In” Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) at The Curragh on Sept. 13, finishing second to Shale (IRE) on that outing.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained filly is one of three Irish challengers for the juvenile fillies mile contest. She is joined by Thunder Beauty (IRE), trained by Ken Condon and the mount of Billy Lee, and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mother Earth (IRE).
Nick Bradley Racing 43 & Partners’ Fev Rover (IRE) relished the testing conditions when winning the Shadwell Prix du Calvados (G2) at Deauville last time out. The Nicolas Clement-trained King’s Harlequin (IRE) finished third on that occasion, before going on to win the Prix d’Aumale (G3) over course and distance, beating Andre Fabre’s Harajuku (IRE) by 1 ½ lengths.
With rain continuing to fall at ParisLongchamp, the French challenge is further strengthened by Tiger Tanaka (IRE). The daughter of Clodovil (IRE) is a five-time winner this season, including recent success in the Prix Francois Boutin (G3) on heavy ground at Deauville. Jessica Marcialis takes the ride.
Fancy Blue Looks for More Group 1 Glory in Prix de l’Opera Longines
Connections of dual Group 1 winner Fancy Blue (IRE)Fancy Blue (IRE) are hoping for more top level success in the Prix de l’Opera Longines (G1) and an automatic place in the US$2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
The Donnacha O’Brien-trained filly steps back up in trip after finishing third in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes (G1) over a mile at Leopardstown on Sept. 12.
A top-class performer over 1 ¼ miles, Fancy Blue ran down Alpine Star (IRE) to win the Prix de Diane Longines (G1) at Chantilly earlier this season, before powering home in the Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood.
They are joined by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Tawkeel (GB), an impressive five-length winner of the Saxon Warrior Coolmore Prix Saint Alary (G1). The daughter of Teofilo (IRE), trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, was last seen winning the Shadwell Prix de la Nonette (G2) at Deauville on Aug. 22.
Other notable runners looking for more Group 1 success include Tarnawa (IRE), winner of the Qatar Prix Vermeille (G1) for Irish trainer Dermot Weld, and trainer James Fanshawe’s Darley Prix Jean Romanet (G1) winner Audarya (FR).
All Eyes on Glass Slippers in Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines
Sprint sensation Glass Slippers (GB) is aiming for her second consecutive win in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (G1) this Sunday. The winner earns an automatic place in the US$1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Glass Slippers earned her place at Keeneland when winning the “Win and You’re In” Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (G1) last time out, with trainer John Quinn’s filly Keep Busy (IRE) back in second. Quinn will be hoping his filly, one of two runners in the race for the UK-based trainer, can reverse that form. The daughter of Night of Thunder (IRE) is once again partnered by Ryan Moore. John Quinn’s other runner Liberty Beach (GB) will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.
They are joined by leading French challenger Wooded (FR), in the colors of Al Shaqab Racing, and Irish fancy Make A Challenge (IRE), trained by Denis Hogan and the mount of James Doyle.