Ace Impact and Hukum are among 15 horses to stand their ground for the the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on Sunday following the first forfeit stage.
French Derby hero Ace Impact is the clear favourite to provide trainer Jean-Claude Rouget with his second victory in Europe’s premier middle-distance contest, following the success of Sottsass three years ago, but looks set to face a strong challenge from across the Channel.
The Owen Burrows-trained Hukum and Ralph Beckett’s Westover look the pick of the British contingent, with both having been kept fresh since their titanic tussle in the King George at Ascot in July.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge and John and Thady Gosden’s Free Wind, the potential final Arc ride for Frankie Dettori, also remain in contention.
Aidan O’Brien has left in Emily Dickinson, but on Sunday indicated she is likely to head for the Prix du Cadran instead, paving the way for his St Leger hero Continuous to be supplemented on Wednesday.
Irish hopes could also be carried by Sprewell from Jessica Harrington’s yard.
Other contenders for the home team include Pascal Bary’s Grand Prix de Paris hero Feed The Flame, last seen finishing second in the Prix Niel, and Simca Mille from Stephane Wattel’s yard.
The latter has won twice and finished second twice from four visits to the track and was last seen breaking his Group One duck in the Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten in August.
Wattel said: “I have to say everything is fine, he’s in good shape and he has done some nice work. We are expecting good ground, which is important for him, and really I am happy with his condition.
“I don’t think we will have heavy ground and that would have been a reason not to run.
“I am really happy to have a runner in the Arc, not a first (top) chance but a fair chance to run well, which is exciting for us as a stable.
“He loves Longchamp and has always run very well there, which gives us a little more expectation than if we were running in England.
“I know the quality of the English horses and I know the quality of the two three-year-old French horses (Ace Impact and Feed The Flame), but our horse is running on his best racetrack and hopefully his best ground, so that gives us a little more chance.”
The German pair of Sisfahan and Mr Hollywood (Henk Grewe), Japan’s Through Seven Seas (Tomohito Ozeki), Haya Zark (Adrien Fouassier), Onesto (Fabrice Chappet) and Place Du Carrousel (Andre Fabre) are the others in the mix.