It's one of the highlights of the racing year with the cream of the racing crop doing battle at Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Tony Calvin has four bets on the card...
"Cloth of Stars was clear second-best to Enable in the race last year, having to wait for his run and finishing comfortably clear of dual Group 1 winner Ulysses in third, and a reproduction of that run will see him placed again here, methinks."
Have a touch on Cloth in the Arc
I have been banging on about Cloth Of Stars for too long now without recommending him as a bet in Sunday's Arc, so now is the time to finally correct that procrastination.
Back him at [40.0] in the win, and [5.0] or bigger in the four-places market.
The case for him is pretty solid - at the price anyway.
The race doesn't have a great deal of depth behind the top four in the market - the fact that Capri, fifth of six in the Foy last time (and I know he a dual Classic winner who was having his first start since April), is the fifth favourite at around 20/1 underlines that - and Cloth Of Stars has been strangely ignored in the market.
He was clear second-best to Enable in the race last year, having to wait for his run and finishing comfortably clear of dual Group 1 winner Ulysses in third, and a reproduction of that run will see him placed again here, methinks.
There is obviously the slight matter of his form since, which has been underwhelming in Group 1 terms, but I thought he shaped very nicely on his first start since July when third to stablemates Waldgeist and Talismanic in the Foy last time, in which outsider Way To Paris stayed on well to be fourth.
That should have teed him up nicely for this, and this keen sort should relish the return to a big field and a stronger gallop.
And if the weather forecast from Saturday night onwards proves correct - up to 14mm is expected in some quarters - then the ground could be perfect for him. His draw in nine is acceptable, and hopefully Vincent Cheminaud will get the gaps when he needs them.
I don't usually pull out quotes from connections to back up my case - I don't normally have any space, and they tend to be self-serving guff, anyway - but these words from Godolphin's assistant racing manager in France, Lisa-Jane Graffard, certainly didn't dampen my enthusiasm.
"The performances of Cloth Of Stars this year haven't been on a par with his 2017 season, " said Graffard.
"For, last year, he delivered three exceptional performances, having twice lowered the course record at Saint-Cloud and run a blinder in the Arc - a race in which he gave his all. He gave of himself 100 per cent on each occasion.
"He has been unlucky this year, and things haven't gone his way, but he has more to prove this year than last season.
"Monsieur Fabre has been giving him special attention since the summer so as to ensure that he is mentally in the right place for the task which awaits him on Sunday. After the Qatar Prix Foy, he told me that he thought the horse would be going into Sunday's race in the same condition as last year."
Enable is fairly-priced at around 6/5 on the exchange, but she is there to be taken on having just her second start since winning this race last year.
Sea Of Class would want quicker ground (she certainly doesn't need the rain) and I think Waldgeist is very solid, but I am going to take a win-only flier on Magical at [80.0] and bigger on the exchange.
There is always the risk that she could be sacrificed as a pacemaker and go forward from stall 16, given she has never raced beyond 1m1f before and comes here after finishing a hampered fourth (she would have been third) to Laurens over a mile in the Matron Stakes last time.
If that is the case, then I will have done my money in cold blood, but I am willing to take the risk.
The furthest she has gone has been over 1m1f in a Group 2 at the Curragh in July, and she won well that day from a couple of subsequent winners, finishing off her race powerfully.
It is also worth remembering that she was viewed as a middle-distance filly earlier in the season - indeed, she was second favourite for the Oaks before a setback on the week of the race ruled her out of Epsom - and she is by Galileo out of a Nassau Stakes winner, so the pedigree gives encouragement.
Of course, she will have to improve a stone or more stepping up in trip here - and Wayne Lordan will need all the luck going from his draw (if he isn't on a pacemaker) - but I think her price underestimates that possibility and the good recent record of three-year-old fillies in this race (Enable, Danedream, Treve and Zarkava) applies as much to her as Sea Of Class.
Diamond can shine in the Opera
The two-year-old races on the card don't interest me at all, but two other contests do and the first is the Prix de L'Opera at 15:50 in which Desert Diamond is a bet at 20/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
She has a fair bit to find with a few of these but the step back up to 1m2f is very much in her favour here.
Her best performance to date has come over an extended 1m2f on good to soft at York and she ran perfectly well when second to an improving filly over 1m1f at the Curragh last time.
Staying is her forte over this trip, so I want to see an aggressive ride from Oisin Murphy.
A closer for the final bet of the day
It will take a sensational performance to lower the colours of Battaash in the Prix de l'Abbaye at 16:25 if he runs to the form of his Chantilly win in this race last year, or his Goodwood romp in August.
But he doesn't have the profile of a horse that I want to back at 6/4, especially as he is surrounded by pacy rivals - four of the five on his inner are front-runners - and I am looking to a closer from out the back for my bet.
City Light fits the bill at [9.0] or bigger, though I will be playing small.
His best performances to date - notably his short-head second in the Diamond Jubilee in the summer - have come over 6f, so I wouldn't mind that rain to arrive to slow the others down in the closing stages. He has won in deep ground, too.
He got brushed aside by the fast-improving Tantheem over course and distance on good ground last time, but he wasn't seen to best effect after a slow start there, and hopefully he can mow the opposition down late on.
His only other start at this track saw him beat Gold Vibe over 5f here in May, and he is worth a minor investment.
Cloth Of Stars @ [40.0] win and [5.0] in four-places market, or bigger, in the Arc (15:05)
Magical @ [80.0] or bigger in Arc (15:05)
Desert Diamond @ 20/1 each way in the 15:50
City Light @ [9.0] or bigger in the 16:25