Trainer Charlie Appleby says Derby winner Adayar has bounced back from the problem which caused him to miss his prep race for Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and will go into Europe’s biggest race in the ‘form of his life’.
Adayar suffered an undisclosed setback and missed two important pieces of work, prompting him to sidestep last month’s Prix Niel at Longchamp.
But Appleby says everything has gone to plan since then for William Buick’s mount as he heads into the race alongside equally talented stablemate Hurricane Lane.
Adayar will seek to emulate Mill Reef (1971) and Lammtarra (1995) by landing glorious treble
Appleby said: ‘Any setback is never ideal. We couldn’t afford to meet with another. But having hit every target we have put in front of him since, I am confident Adayar will go into the Arc in the form of his life.
‘We have seen what Hurricane Lane can do over a mile and a half, and he stays the distance well — that’s what won him the Irish Derby.
‘He was also an impressive winner of the Grand Prix de Paris and I felt he didn’t have to go through all the gears to win the St Leger. We are supremely privileged to have two colts of their profiles going into the Arc.’
History beckons for both colts, who will try to give Godolphin their first Arc success since Marienbard in 2002.
Adayar has bounced back from the problem which caused him to miss his prep race
If Adayar wins, he will join the great Mill Reef (1971) and Lammtarra (1995), the only three-year-olds who previously landed the Arc, the Derby at Epsom in June and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.
Hurricane Lane, ridden by James Doyle, will try to become the first horse to win the St Leger and the Arc in the same season and Appleby admits the two rivals are hard to split.
The trainer, whose only previous Arc runner was the unplaced Ghaiyyath in 2019, believes it is the finishing kick Adayar showed when winning at Epsom and Ascot that prompted the stable’s No1 jockey Buick to choose him.
It should not be forgotten that Hurricane Lane went into the Derby the more fancied of the Appleby runners before finishing third after losing both front shoes.
Adayar and Hurricane Lane will try to give Godolphin their first Arc success since 2002
In the 19 runnings of the Arc at Longchamp this century, only three have been won by a horse starting from a double-figure starting stall.
That is a better statistic for Hurricane Lane (stall 2) than Adayar (11) and the prospect of ever softening ground as rain hits Paris later today could also play better for Hurricane Lane. But this is far from a two-horse race, with pace looking guaranteed in a strong stamina test over a mile and a half.
Fittingly with this being the 100th running of the €5million (£4.3m) Arc, previously won by some of the greatest horses including Ribot, Sea Bird, Dancing Brave, Sea The Stars, Treve and Enable, the field is stacked with quality.
Soft-ground lover Alenquer, well drawn in eight, looks an interesting 25-1 shot for trainer William Haggas and the challenge from Ireland is headed by Tarnawa. The mare, owned by the Aga Khan and ridden by Christophe Soumillon, has been targeted at the race by trainer Dermot Weld after Group One wins last year included the Prix de l’Opera on heavy ground at this meeting.
Tarnawa did not make a winning comeback until August and her three-quarter-length second to St Mark’s Basilica in the 10-furlong Irish Champion Stakes, when many thought she was unlucky not to get the race after a stewards’ inquiry, was an excellent run. Weld has won most of the biggest races around the world, including the Melbourne Cup twice, but the Arc is the one glaring omission from his c.v.
Aidan O’Brien has won the Arc twice and runs three. It is hard to see him providing Frankie Dettori, who rides Love, with a seventh win. Love was beaten over three lengths by Adayar in the King George and the going is set to swing against her.
But Snowfall, the mount of Ryan Moore, looked special when winning the English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks.
Confidence is dented by her first defeat of the season in the Prix Vermeille but O’Brien is adamant the run was still sound as Snowfall finished with purpose after being too far off the pace in a slowly-run contest.
Virtually the only thing missing is a strong French hope. Their shortest-priced hope Raabihah has been 25-1 in the ante-post betting and last year’s fifth is drawn widest of all in stall 15.
TV: Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Saturday 3.05pm LIVE on ITV.