Jean-Claude Rouget will stick to a tried and tested plan as Ace Impact faces his date with destiny in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.
The three-year-old enjoyed a swift rise through the ranks this term, graduating from a Cagnes-Sur-Mer conditions win in January to Prix du Jockey Club glory just three runs later, with his electric turn of foot thrilling the Chantilly crowd.
He again showed his ability to accelerate when winning the Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano on his prep race in August and Rouget is confident jockey Cristian Demuro can curb the Cracksman colt’s enthusiasm and ensure he produces his trademark finishing burst.
The trainer said: “We’re not going to do anything special. He’s quite calm in the morning, it’s true that in a race, like all good horses, he’s more exuberant, but we shall just handle it as we always do.
“Obviously there’s going to be more spectators and it’s going to be a special day, but so far everything is going as planned.
“The jockey will ride him as usual and try to relax him until the second half of the race.
“The track is going to be fast enough so everyone will be able to find a position and I’m not really worried that there isn’t going to be any pace.
“We don’t really have a reference (with the British and Irish horses) and I just hope that there’s a good pace in the race, which will allow horses that race in the back to finish.”
The Pascal Bary-trained Feed The Flame has been on a similarly rapid upward curve, although his progress was arrested when he could finish only fourth behind Ace Impact at Chantilly.
He has since gone on to win the Grand Prix de Paris and finished second to the reopposing Fantastic Moon in the Prix Niel over the Arc course and distance, his only defeat in four starts at ParisLongchamp.
Feed The Flame is another who employs come-from-behind tactics and Bary thinks his charge is particularly suited to the track.
He said: “He ran very well in the Prix du Jockey Club, he finished close to the Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner (Marhaba Ya Sanafi), there were only a few lengths between him and Ace Impact, so it was a good performance.
“He really likes Longchamp because it’s a track that allows him the time to produce his potential. He’s a horse that likes to take his time and at Longchamp he can do that because there’s the long straight.
“He’s a horse that can be a bit cold at the beginning of a race, but he develops throughout the race as he goes further and he showed in the Grand Prix de Paris that he accelerated really well in the final straight.”
Dual Arc-winning rider Christophe Soumillon will be in the saddle again, and Bary added: “He knows the horse, he knows Longchamp, he knows how to ride that race. Once I put him on the horse, I can go into the stands and watch the race with confidence.”
Through Seven Seas is this year’s Japanese contender for Tomohito Ozeki.
The five-year-old mare does not boast as high a profile as some previous Japanese challengers, but she brings some excellent form to the table having been beaten just a neck by the world’s top-rated horse Equinox on her most recent run in June.
Through Seven Seas arrived in France in mid-September and has pleased Ozeki and big-race rider Christophe Lemaire in her work.
Ozeki said: “The trip went really well, it was a long trip to come over here but thanks to all the staff and people around her it all went really well.
“Everything has gone well in her training. She has acclimatised really well to a new environment. She did a little canter last Sunday, just to see what was happening, on the Aigles track, it was just a small canter.
“On Wednesday morning she did a small gallop, her last before the race and she had a really nice action at the end as she usually shows, so everything is going really well.”
Another French-trained hope is Simca Mille, who was named by trainer and part-owner Stephane Wattel in honour of the car produced in France in the 1960s and 70s.
The trainer explained: “The Simca Mille is undoubtedly the ugliest car to emerge from the French production line, and the main point of its engine was to make a noise. However, I promise that if we finish in the first three on Sunday, it will become my favourite car!”
Simca Mille scored his first Group One win in the Grosser Preis von Berlin on his most recent run and Wattel is sweet on his chance at a track where he has won two of his four outings.
He said: “On Sunday, he will be racing on his favourite ground and ideal course. He’s a very intelligent horse and a straightforward ride. It is only during the pre-race parade when he can get stirred up.
“We will be clashing with horses which are theoretically superior to him, but it is a great opportunity to take them on in optimal conditions.”