The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the climax of the flat racing season and the most eagerly-anticipated race of the year.
After winning the most prestigious races in their respective countries, the world’s top gallopers do battle in the season’s most hotly-contested event.
With the race just over a month away and with plenty of clues to take away from the recent York Ebor Festival, let’s take a look and some of the leading players in this year’s race which for a second time will be held at Chantilly.
Enable strengthened her grip on Arc favouritism after recording her fourth successive Group One victory by winning the Yorkshire Oaks last week.
As a three-year-old filly she will get a valuable weight allowance from colts and older horses as she attempts to become the sixth filly to win the Arc in the past seven seasons.
Enable’s jockey, Frankie Dettori said. “I pushed her out, but I felt I had something left if someone had come to me. She likes to have a fight on her hands; unfortunately today there was no fight and we had to do her own thing. She goes there (to the Arc) with a favourite’s chance and the weight allowance. She has won four Group Ones in a row by five lengths and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Her trainer, John Gosden said after her York romp: “She got lonely in the last part, she was looking around and idling. It’s not her favourite way of racing but she can do it that way. It was a lovely prep for the Arc, and it’s a nice run-in now.
"She’d be the best mile-and-a-half filly that I’ve trained. Golden Horn (the 2015 Derby and Arc winner) would be the best mile-and-a-half colt, I think (the four-time Group One winner) The Fugue was better at a mile-and-a-quarter, and Royal Heroine (the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner) at a mile, but that’s a long time ago.”
Gosden will resist a prep-run before the showdown at Chantilly. "She took the King George well and been very playful and full of herself," he said.
"Either you don't run here (York), which would be a shame for a fabulous meeting, so what do you do. She'll go straight to the Arc, I don't want any more trips, and she'll have nice two or three weeks easy."
Great Voltigeur Stakes winner Cracksman could have an outing in the Prix Niel at Chantilly on September 10th.
The Champion Stakes and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe were flagged up as the only possible next races for the colt, but it now appears the son of Frankel may run in what is regarded as the leading trial for the European middle-distance championship.
Cracksman, who is also trained by John Gosden said: "We are just keeping our minds open at the moment. We are just thinking that it is August and it is a long time until he can run again next May if you count the months on your fingers.
"If he is on good order I will discuss it with Mr Oppenheimer and we may well run again."
After Ulysses scored emphatically in the Juddmonte International at York he was instantly slashed to as low as 8/1 with bookmakers.
However the Niarchos family, who own Ulysses, are much keener on a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Turf and probably would like to avoid another clash with Enable.
It has long been said in some quarters that when (and it is only a matter of when, not if) a Japanese-trained horse wins the Arc, it will be because two conditions have been met: a top quality horse has been entered, and they have to avoid coming up against a champion European horse, the like of Sea The Stars,Treve, Zarkava etc.
Connections of the Japanese raider Satono Diamond will more than likely cursing their luck again this autumn as they have the horse, they just didn’t need to run into the super filly Enable.
One thing Satono Diamond won't be lacking when he lines up at Chantilly is stamina. He was run over much further than the 1m4f trip, so connections will be hoping for a strong pace which could suit their horse. As a three-year-old, he won the Kikuka Sho, which is the Japanese St Leger, run over 1m7f.
Orfevre came the closest of any Asian horse to win the Arc in 2012 when denied by Solemia in a photo finish.
This horse will have to been exceptional to even figure in anything remotely like a photo with a class filly heading the market.
After lowering the colours of the local hope Brametot in the Group Two Prix Guillaume d'Ornano, Martyn Meade’s Eminent put himself right in the Arc picture.
Asked after the Deauville victory whether the son of Frankel could come under consideration for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Meade added: "He could do. We can all dream, can't we? I do think he'd like that distance (mile and a half)."I know him so well now, so it just depends how he is at home. If it's a possibility then I'd love to bring him back."
Aidan O'Brien is usually well represented in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in which he saddled the first three home last year, and his Highland Reel is his most prominent horse in the betting at 10/1.
The globe-trotting five-year-old was second to Found in last year’s renewal and is certainly a class act with Group One wins on several continents to his name.
For me, Highland Reel is the most likely horse in the field to pick up the pieces if Enable fails to shine.
My long range prediction: Highland Reel (e/w).