Five French fancies for Arc day
There's a strong raiding party from GB and Ireland heading to Chantilly, but Ben Linfoot picks out five locals for them to fear.
Jemayel (far right) could be stern opposition for So Mi Dar in the Prix de l'Opera
Attendu – Qatar Prix de la Foret
If Limato turns up in top form at Chantilly he's going to be tough to beat in the Prix de la Foret, but in Attendu the home team have an improving rival and at prices as big as 16/1 he's worthy of consideration.
The son of Acclamation had a slow start to his three-year-old career and was only ninth to The Gurkha in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, but he's getting better with racing and has looked much more like the finished article on his last three starts.
Beating Esoterique probably isn't the scalp it used to be but he dispatched her easily enough in a Group Three at Deauville before finishing a creditable close-up sixth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Last time he was held up over this year's Foret course and distance in a Group Three won by Charlie Hills' Jallota, and he stayed on well to beat everything bar the British raider.
That was probably a career-best effort and peaking towards the end of the three-year-old season is something that runs in the family.
His half-sister, Impassable, put in the best performance of her racing life when beating Miss France to the Prix Daniel Wildenstein this time last year, while before that, his other half-sister, Foreign Tune, also put in a lifetime's best at the end of her three-year-old campaign when winning a Listed race at Saint-Cloud at the end of September.
With that in mind, Attendu – though he'll have to – could well be ready to run the race of his life.
It's also worth remembering that the last time Henry Candy's Limato ran over seven furlongs was in this race last year when he was beaten by France's Make Believe.
If the son of Tagula has to play second fiddle on his away trip yet again, perhaps it will be another member of the home team that denies him.
Jemayel – Prix de l'Opera Longines
Another race, another British-trained favourite. John Gosden's So Mi Dar looks sure to be all the rage in the Prix de l'Opera following her winning Yarmouth return, but this is a contest the home contingent have done well in recently.
Five of the last seven Opera trophies have stayed in France and Jean-Claude Rouget could well be the latest recipient of one judging by Jemayel's improving profile this season.
Rouget has had a wonderful season, the exploits of his fillies La Cressonniere and Qemah – who have won four Group Ones between them – highlighting just some of the top-level success he has had this campaign.
Like Qemah, Jemayel is owned by Al Shaqab Racing and, like Qemah, she is also a Group One winner this year.
Her win at the top level came at Deauville back in May, but she looks ready for a crack at another one following two good efforts behind Minding (in the Nassau Stakes) and stablemate La Cressonniere (in the Prix de la Nonette) on her last two starts.
Although she's been in the shadow of her more high-profile stablemates this season, that's some really nice form she's put together and if she's underestimated by the British bookmakers in the face of strong support for So Mi Dar, she could become a viable punting option.
So Mi Dar looks a good filly, of that there is no doubt, but just one run since May isn't the ideal preparation for her first go at a Group One and in Jemeyal she has a consistent performer at the highest level to overcome.
Son Cesio – Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp
Son Cesio was well beaten in the Abbaye last year and was pretty average in Germany behind Markaz last time too, but he shouldn't be underestimated on Sunday.
He has plenty to find with hot-favourite Mecca's Angel, admittedly, but if Michael Dods' superstar mare isn't on a going day, for whatever reason, then the Abbaye is wide open and course specialist Son Cesio could well be the one to take advantage.
The son of Zafeen has won four times from six goes at Chantilly, including the Listed Prix Hampton in 2014 and 2015, while he took the Group Two Prix Gros-Chene at the track in June.
He beat Catcall that day when producing a career-best effort and the runner-up is a good example of a Group Two-standard French sprinter that can raise their game in the Abbaye. Catcall has never won it, but he went mighty close when finishing second to Maarek in 2013, a standard of performance he hasn't matched since.
It's fair to say Son Cesio would be a shock winner looking at his overall profile, like Catcall would have been, but if he's ever going to win an Abbaye it's likely to be while the race is run at Chantilly.
Click on the image of Chantilly for the latest betting on Arc day at Sky Bet
Toulifaut – Total Prix Marcel Boussac Criterium Des Pouliches
Back to Jean-Claude Rouget again. His juveniles have been impressing too and none more so than his Frankel daughter, Toulifaut, who looks set to go off a strong favourite for the Prix Marcel Boussac.
She's a half-sister to Ernest Hemingway so it's to be expected she'll be stepping up in trip at some point next year, but her ability to see out her races over a mile strongly as a two-year-old were evident last time and that could be a vital weapon in her armour this weekend.
After winning two minor races at Clairefontaine and Deauville on her first two starts, Toulifaut was pitched into Group Three company at Chantilly last time for the Prix d'Aumale.
It's difficult to know what the form is worth as yet, but she was taking on a trio of once-raced maiden winners and one of those, Freddy Head's Invincible Queen, was sent off shorter than her in the market.
It was all very easy for the French Frankel filly, though. Held up by Ioritz Mendizabal in the early stages, she was travelling well as the others came under pressure and she found plenty once asked for her effort down the centre of the track.
Well on top at the line a length clear of the rest, Toulifaut looks to be a useful tool, or indeed a useful Toul, and it will be tough for the British and Irish contingent to take her down on her own patch.
Left Hand – Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Much as I like Postponed and Makahiki and Found and Harzand, it's not an absolute crackerjack renewal of Europe's season-defining middle-distance race, is it?
I do wonder about the suitability of the track for Postponed, I'm not entirely sure what we learned of Makahiki in the Prix Niel, Found has finished second on her last five starts and Harzand has had a rushed preparation after sustaining a cut in the Irish Champion.
Perhaps that's all a bit simplistic. Perhaps I'm just looking for one at a bigger price because it's in my nature. Perhaps I'm blinded by the recent record of three-year-old fillies in the race.
But isn't Left Hand quite interesting at 20/1?
Owned and bred by the Wertheimers, her dam, Balladeuse, was a Group Two winner over a mile-and-a-half and she in turn was a half-sister to the Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Plumania.
Left Hand looks just as good and potentially even better than her relatives at this stage and, though she hasn't looked like a Zarkava or a Danedream or a Treve just yet, she has progressed nicely as she has stepped up in trip and she is thoroughly unexposed over a mile and a half.
Her only go at the distance came in the Prix Vermaille at this track on her latest start, yet she held off the four-year-old Endless Time well to record her first Group One success.
That came on the back of a Group Three victory at Deauville which in turn came on the back of an excellent second in the Prix de Diane Longines where she finished half-a-length off La Cressonniere and a length-and-a-quarter ahead of Volta.
La Cressonniere would be a relatively short price were she not an absentee here and the filly that has got closer to her than any other could well be underestimated by the bookmakers for the big one.