Actually it’s the Arc, not the hokey cokey (and what’s that all about anyway?). Runners are coming out today at the 5 day stage and tomorrow runners will be coming in as the supplementary stage opens.
Out goes Yeats (the battalions of Ballydoyle were having a bubble barf with that one), stalls-shy Spanish Moon (who was my ante-post ew bet) and three others. In, for the fee of 100,000 euros, will likely come Stacelita, Cavalryman and maybe Sariska (but I am not sure about her as there has not yet been the rain they are after). We have light rain forecast for the days preceding Sunday’s race but at the moment it is not believed to be enough to hinder the wonder horse’s participation.
The Arc and I have an uneasy autumnal sort of relationship. My flat racing season tends to follow the same pattern every year. Wild abandon when the Guineas comes round at the thought of all the exciting prospects, a glutted reverie in the mid-summer (after the Eclipse) when the calendar is full to bursting and week long festivals seem to be happening every fortnight, and then a sad sort of realisation about now that it is coming to an end. Now is the time reputations are cemented, or shattered for good at Longchamp and then at the Breeders’ Cup. I find that the enjoyable exercise of trying to read a race in advance, now becomes clouded by sentiment and my hopes for individual horses. Now I know Sea the Stars doesn’t give a toss if he wins on Sunday (although they do say a horse’s heart can be broken) but I really, really do.
The last time I gave this much of a shit was when I was convinced Deep Impact would win the Arc a few years back. For those of you that didn’t see that showdown, Deep was 3rd and subsequently disqualified for having had a blast of Vicks a few days before the big one. I felt ill before, during and after the unsatisfactory race and although I always enjoy the Arc I can’t quite bring myself to engage with it fully. This year I have no choice.
It is tricky to preview a race without the line-up and the going. Kieren Fallon is not to be deterred though in the “Weekender”, asserting that it is no done deal for StS given his packed dancecard and that Youmzain (his mount) may, finally and in blinkers, get in the Group 1 winning groove. Well he might.
I have read others who are sweet on Conduit’s chances, yet others who insist he is a one-paced gallop merchant who will not have the requisite toe from the turn-in.
I find myself entirely unable to analyse this race.
I want Sea the Stars to win, trot into the history books and share his genes with us for a long, long time.
That said, I will organise my thoughts, exorcise the sentiment and evaluate the field’s chances on Sunday.