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An Arc for the ages

 Oct 4 2013

They say no one remembers who came second.

But if you watched last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe there's more chance that you remember the runner up instead of the winner.

Orfevre shot to the front under Christophe Soumillon and a nation cheered. Ian Bartlett, the race caller, even declared Orfevre the winner. "They're going to do it," he roared in reference to the Japanese coming so close in previous years to taking out Europe's richest race.

Alas, it wasn't to be though, as Orfevre lurched to the right, lost momentum, lost his balance and lost the race to the more tractable Solemia.

Watch all the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe action on Sky Racing 2 (Channel 520) and Sky Racing World (Channel 521) from 10.30pm (AEDT) Sunday night.

So, 12 months on, and the striking chestnut is favourite once more – he's a year older but is he any wiser?

A  more specific program targeted around the Arc this year culminated in a facile victory in the Prix Foy last time out, a race he also won last year over the Arc course and distance.

Outwardly he couldn't have looked any more impressive but only Orfevre knows what's going on inside. On that evidence though, the 5yo entire is certainly one of the horses to beat and the odds compilers agree, as he is currently a $3.20 favourite on Fixed Odds with

Germany surprised with Danedream 2 years ago, but there will be no surprise if Novellist wins this year. Each run this season has surpassed the previous with the mid-season highlight being a devastating performance to land the The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in record time. This was followed up with an 'exhibition gallop' in the G1 Grosser Preis von Baden last time out and his preparation to this point has been faultless. His trainer, Andreas Wholer, has stated he couldn't be happier with the lead-up and victory on Sunday will cap a perfect season for the 4yo son of Monsun, who is well found in the market at $6 with

A cursory glance at the Roll of Honour shows 3 year old's having the best record in recent years and overall for that matter.

Since 1990, The Arc has been won by the classic generation on 17 occasions (once by a filly, the irrepressible Zarkava); 4yo's have won on 5 occasions (2 of those fillies, including last year); but only one 5yo has been successful during that time, Marienbard for Godolphin in 2002. In fact, since WWII, 5yo's have only greeted the judge first on five occasions, so the statistics, as far as age are concerned, are heavily stacked against Orfevre.

Watch Racing Round The World at 6pm (AEDT) Tuesday night on Sky Racing World for a special one-hour review of one of Europe's greatest horse racing events.

This year's classic crop are represented by scintillating Prix de Jockey Club winner, Intello ($11); unbeaten Prix Diane winner Treve ($4.80); English Derby winner Ruler of the World ($10), one of Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien two candidates for this year's Arc which also include St Leger winner Leading Light who is unbeaten in 4 starts this year ($15); and Tokyo Yushun winner, Kizuna ($9), a course and distance winner at Longchamp with a short head victory over Ruler Of The World in the Prix Niel.

Others to consider, which in my opinion make up the best Arc field in recent memory, include the brilliant winner of the Yorkshire Oaks and Irish Champion Stakes, The Fugue ($17), and Prince of Wales's Stakes and Eclipse winner Al Kazeem, who looked untouchable in the first half of the year and is at succulent each way odds at his current quote of $15 with

This year's field is truly an outstanding cross section of world racing.

None of the names mentioned would look out of place on the Roll of Honour dating back to 1920, but of the 91 winners to date, not one of them has been trained outside of Europe.

Maybe that could change this year?

By Andrew Le Jeune

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