Handicappers Blog | 5 October 2017

05 Oct 17

Triomphe indeed

Andrew Mealor looks back on a memorable success for Enable in the 96th running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s richest race.

In receipt of both the weight-for-age and weight-for-sex allowance, Enable looked the standout performer at the weights prior to this year’s Arc but she still improved both her form and standing with a commanding success.

In a relatively trouble-free race considering the big field, Enable was handy from an early stage just off the pacemaking Idaho and his stablemate Order of St George. Having traveled supremely well, Enable soon had the race in safe keeping once Dettori sent her on with two furlongs to go, coming home two and a half lengths clear of Cloth Of Stars with Ulysses a further length and a quarter back in third.

As far as rating the race goes, the proximity of Cloth Of Stars looked a potential fly in the ointment at first glance given he came in rated 117 and had been beaten into second by Dschingis Secret (120) in the Foy over the Arc course and distance three weeks previously. However, improvement from him isn’t unwarranted given his overall profile as a 4yo who has not had many tries at twelve furlongs.  In addition, the Foy was his first outing since May and the overall result looks solid going down the field with most of the runners finishing roughly where expected.

Fourth home Order of St George in particular gives a good guide to the level having finished third in last year’s Arc and he has looked as good as ever this season.

As with all of the big Group 1 races worldwide, the final published figures are a result of consultation between the relevant Handicappers in each country. Following those discussions, Enable has been allotted a new mark of 128, up 2 lb from her pre-race 126.

Calling her margin of victory 6 lb (factoring in the ease of the win) brings Cloth Of Stars out at 125 after the 3 lb (1.5kg) fillies allowance is taken into account.  That is roughly around the figure you would expect a runner-up in the Arc to achieve judged on the standard of recent renewals. He comprehensively reversed the Foy form with Dschingis Secret who was not far off his best in sixth despite charting a wide passage.

Ulysses did not quite run to his best in the Arc and remains 2 lb ahead of Cloth of Stars on 127, a figure he achieved over ten furlongs in the Juddmonte International. Also placed behind Enable in the King George earlier this season, Ulysses clearly has high-class form at twelve furlongs; but it may well be that slightly shorter suits him ideally. He was a bit keen at Chantilly.

Getting back to Enable, a winning figure of 128 is well up to scratch for an Arc winner and is bang on the average rating achieved in the race by the previous ten winners.

Fillies have been remarkably successful in the Arc in recent years, with only three of the last ten renewals going to the males, a sequence kicked off by Zarkava in 2008. Enable is now rated the equal of both her and 2011 winner Danedream, and behind only Treve (who was rated 130 after a five-length with in 2013) amongst the winning fillies in that period.

Treve, of course, returned to complete an Arc double in 2014, a feat that Enable will hopefully be given a chance to emulate in 2018 when the race moves back to the newly-renovated Longchamp

Speed King of Chantilly

The final European Group 1 race over 5f was the Qatar Abbaye de Longchamp run on Arc day and it produced a commanding performance from Battaash writes Chris Nash. He disputed the lead early and led before halfway before powering clear of his rivals to win by four lengths from Marsha with Profitable a further neck away in third.

Marsha had won the Nunthorpe last time and arrived rated 121 and Profitable had run in all the big sprints in 2017 generally performing with credit and arrived rated 115. In blowing them away I was really hopeful that I could get Battaash to a figure of 125+; but the form of the Abbaye is somewhat tempered by the next two home – the British trained Duke Of Firenze (4th) and Queen Kindly (5th). This meant that I felt I could only get Battaash to a figure of 123+ which put Marsha well below her Nunthorpe form at 108, Profitable at 110, Duke of Firenze at 107 (he arrived rated 104) and Queen Kindly running to her pre-race mark of 103. Yet the only horse to have run a higher figure in the race this century was the John Oxx trained Namid who was given a figure of 127 for his win in the 2000 renewal.

The 123 figure for Battaash represents another career best and is the highest figure achieved over 5f this season. Lady Aurelia who won the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot returned a figure of 122 there and I decided to downgrade the figure for Marsha in the Nunthorpe to 120 after her run on Sunday. Bar Battaash’s below par effort last time out at York where he got stewed up in the preliminaries, the colt has a progressive profile having run figures of 109+, 115, 122+, 108 and 123+ in his 5 starts this season.
Because he is a gelding it seems very likely that he will remain in training next season. I am hopeful that there might be still more to come.

Like brother like sister?

It has been just under a year since Churchill cemented his place as Champion Two-Year-Old with victory in the Dewhurst. Last weekend his sister Clemmie thrust herself to the top of the tree amongst the juvenile fillies with a decisive success in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Sakes, writes Graeme Smith.

Clemmie and Ryan Moore winning The Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes

Clemmie has long had a tall reputation and had won in Group 3 and Group 2 company since her defeat in the Albany; but it was only on Saturday that she produced the sort of performance we’d long been promised.

With Different League and Treasuring ensuring a sound test, the Cheveley Park produced the strongest time of the day returning a speed figure of 115. Both historical standards and a line through the likeable runner-up Different League mirrored that figure and that put her above the mean from the last six runnings, albeit 1lb below the last two winners. Clemmie’s figure, as well as the other Irish horses to have run in the last week, was discussed with the Irish Two-year-old Handicapper Mark Bird but obviously these figures are still fluid until the end of the year.

The exciting thing about Clemmie is that she is bred to stay a mile. Her ability to first match the speedy-Different League and then keep going as that one cried enough bode really well for her prospects from here. It seems a step up in trip at the Breeders’ Cup could well be next.

The Juddmonte Middle Park looked to have more depth to it that the fillies’ race beforehand but it left a rather confusing picture with Beckford, Sioux Nation, Unfortunately and Sands of Mali all misfiring to varying degrees. Fleet Review’s much-improved performance in second came as something of a surprise but the July Stakes winner Cardsharp provided some much-needed backbone in third. WIth hindsight U S Navy Flag had signalled an improved performance last time for all he had been beaten in six of his eight starts before this race.

A speed figure of 108 does not read well against Clemmie’s; but it is not a like-for-like comparison as, when sectionals are factored in, they paint a picture of a strongly-run Middle Park that became rather hard work in the finish. Both race standards and a line through Cardsharp’s best of 110 point to 117 for U S Navy Flag. While time will tell how well the form works out there is an argument that U S Navy Flag did creditably to stay in front having forced the pace throughout.

Roaring Lion & Oisin Murphy

With the Dewhurst on the horizon 118 is now the benchmark to beat and there are several European two-year-olds on 117. It is Expert Eye who sits on top at the minute courtesy of a further endorsement of his Vintage form from Mildenberger’s good run in the Royal Lodge.

The Royal Lodge winner Roaring Lion ran to 112 and he looked at one stage as though he was capable of winning by further than the final margin of a neck. It is to be hoped that his tendency to hang left doesn’t inhibit his progress from here.

Attraction’s son Elarqam has quickly made into a smart performer and he too earned a mark of 112 when taking the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday in decisive fashion (speed figure of 98). Surely he’ll be over 1m before long and there’s a fair chance there’s more still to come from him. For what it’s worth it sounds as though he has Mark Johnston very excited!

Juliet Capulet continued her progression when making the Group 2 breakthrough in the Shadwell Rockfel on Friday. She received a beautifully-judged ride from Frankie Dettori (speed figure of 98) and ran to a mark of 106 as she held Nyaleti off by a head. It’s also worth mentioning Gavota (102) who ran on into third starting her run from further back than the first two had. She had been most impressive in a couple of novices and I’d imagine she could make a better fist of things given another try in this grade.