One-quarter of the household departs to watch this clash today. Can you win? I asked. I think not was the reply. Didier Drogba is (and I paraphrase here) too Didier and too Drogba for the Arsenal to deal with. Another view from another Gooner yesterday was that Drogba is the supreme athlete, across all sporting endeavour.
A shame then that Didier cannot line up this afternoon at Longchamp for the Arc as he would clearly be nailed on for victory. Instead I will have to wade through the equines that are starting.
I was asked yesterday: can Workforce win. I think not. My reasons are manifold. Sir Michael has never trained the Arc winner, this year’s Derby although fast, has not yielded a vintage crop in the defeated, Workforce was reportedly “a shell” after his win on Epsom Downs which puts me in mind of Denman after his Gold Cup win. It takes time for a horse to come back from running out of its skin like that. Furthermore there is the ground and the trip to consider and those, to my mind, do not a match in heaven make. The road to Arc triumph is littered with Derby heroes, I wouldn’t mind if Workforce were to somehow replicate his Derby effort, but my mind’s eye can’t see it.
What of the French contingent, which includes the likely favourite Bekhabad? My contention would be that this little lot have not really had a searching examination of their collateral French form. Cape Blanco finished woefully in arrears of Lope de Vega and Bekhabad in the Prix du Jockey club, but I think the Irish horse was coming into the race off a hard time in the Dante, and I don’t count that form as a test for the French. The figures certainly say that Bekhabad would be the best of the French bunch and he seems to get 12f, but I don’t feel convinced.
Then the only angles left to me are the reliable Arc yardstick Youmzain, the unreliable Arc yardstick Cavalryman and the Ballydoyle battalion. For the purposes of wordcount I have to ignore the Japanese, German and Czech horses.
Youmzain would be the best story in the race if he were to win, but this year has not been kind to him and we can only conclude that he has no more improvement left in him. On the other hand, the Arc is usually run to suit his style of coming late and he clearly likes the course so for the sake of being part of a good yarn to tell in future Octobers I’ll throw a few quid his way more in hope than expectation. The truth is he’s not my idea of the winner.
Cavalryman has lost me a few quid this year. I don’t know what to make of his chance at all. There were signs that he was coming back to himself in the last outing and he should be ok with the ground, but perhaps only a blind fool would back him this afternoon. Am I a blind fool? Well sometimes.
Then to the Irish. Midas Touch is coming back off only a short break in the Leger, Fame & Glory might go on the ground and has previous Arc form, but despite his 1111 form figures, he has not faced the stiffest of tests this year. So we are left with the 3yo Cape Blanco, with Christophe Soumillon an excellent Longchamp pilot, but perhaps not the best of the draw. He has a blip on his record when last in France, but he has had the opportunity to rectify that since (unlike Workforce). He is unexposed and although I have read there are concerns for him on the soft ground I do not share them. I am a little bit worried about the trip. Nevertheless, I have already backed him and I may back him again with the other two Ballydoyle horses in my new favourite bet: the combination forecast.
And I’d’ve put good money on never typing that sentence.
So having got lost in my own analysis I am down to:
Youmzain for old times sake, Cavalryman – ditto.
Cape Blanco already backed – can I afford to put him with a FAG and a Midas Touch in a combo with coke and les frites?
Duncan – shit draw, but form behind Harbinger and a 12f victory @ Longchamp on soft going under his belt. Could he be some value @ 33s?
This could get pretty messy.
P.S. Dick and Paco aim to beat super Goldi in the Prix de la Foret earlier on the card. I would love it if it could be Dick’s Day. I would love it too if it could be Paco’s. I can’t remember them racing against each other. I have to say my heart lies with this contest. The Arc, and the football are just the supporting acts.