Last Sunday featured the traditional Arc trials day at Longchamp but with one difference, this year the Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp changed dates to coincide with other Groups such as the Qatar Prix Vermeille, Qatar Prix Foy and Qatar Prix Niel. The vast majority of racing professionals were of the opinion that this was a positive step which created one major day of racing in the build up to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 2nd.
First up on the card were the sprinters in the Qatar Prix du Petit Couvert over 5 furlongs. Two international visitors were present for this contest with the spoils going to the Robert Cowell trained Prohibit, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Winning owner and trainer were unfortunately not present for the celebrations due to having encountered problems on the Eurostar, when three people on their train were arrested, in the morning but they still had to endure some tense moments by phone when a stewards’ enquiry was announced after the finish. Prohibit beat Mar Adentro by only a head but the two had come into contact with each other in the dying strides of the race. Luckily for Prohibit the result remained unchanged and connections could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The siren for a steward’s enquiry rang out again after the following race, the Qatar Prix Foy, but once again the result remained unchanged. Christophe Lemaire sent the Aga Khan’s star filly Sarafina through a gap that barely existed on the inside of the Japanese contender Hiruno d’Amour, who was the eventual second beaten only a short neck, and interfered with him in the process. It was a very risky move on Lemaire’s part and luckily for him he had an immensely brave filly underneath him who as ever was willing to give her all in the finish. The result of the enquiry meant four days suspension for Lemaire for his actions.
French Derby winner Reliable Man put his disappointing performance in the Grand Prix de Paris behind him and looked back to his best when beating Meandre, winner on that occasion, by an impressive two lengths to win the Qatar Prix Niel. The heavy rain that fell throughout the day seemed to be to his benefit and he now looks another strong candidate for the Arc.
Galikova is doing her utmost to come out of the shadow of her older sister, the phenomenal Goldikova. She definitely deserved to be judged on her own merits when coming home the comfortable winner of the Qatar Prix Vermeille under Olivier Peslier. Testosterone was a further two and a half lengths back in second but the Irish filly Wonder of Wonders and the Andre Fabre trained Wavering really failed to fire in this race.
Coolmore purchased the Marco Botti trained Excelebration after his recent impressive success in Newbury and the move paid off when he beat the Godolphin representative Rio de le Plata to win the Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. Dubawi Gold was disappointing back in fourth but jockey Richard Hughes felt that he ran flat after a long season and may benefit from a break. Excelebration handled the soft ground with ease despite it being a major concern of his trainer’s beforehand. Marco Botti is a nephew of Giuseppe Botti,a major force among trainers in Italy and who also has a satellite yard with around 25 horses in Chantilly in the care of his son Alessandro. Excelebration will now go for either the QEII or the Breeders’ Cup.
All in all despite the heavy rain there was a real atmosphere of anticipation around Longchamp with the crowd present already thinking ahead to October 2nd and the possibility of seeing the day’s stars such as Sarafina, Galikova and Reliable Man encounter such champions as So You Think and last year’s winner Workforce in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Something to note from the other “non Group” races on the card; Christophe Soumillon was judged to have caused the terrible fall of young jockey William Saraiva, who suffered a broken nose and arm, in the straight of the last race. For this he was disqualified from first place and given a suspension of fifteen days. This means that he will not be able to ride on Arc day at Longchamp.