Timeform Treble: Trio of champions or treble of lays on Arc weekend?
"There has been many an upset in the long history of the Arc but few if any have had the brilliance and consitution of Sea The Stars, who has already bucked so many trends and broken so much new ground."
History is against him but can Sea The Stars win the Arc? Will the Abbaye throw up a shock? And is a bet on Yeats born of sense or sentiment? Timeform look at the big races across the Arc weekend...
He's been on the go since May. He still has questions to answer over a mile and a half. History is against him. All these misgivings (and more) will be levelled at Sea The Stars in the run-up to the Arc. So are there grounds for the lingering doubts?
He's been on the go since May. True, Sea The Stars has been in full training for at least six months, and the Arc proved one race too far for some exceptional colts such as, Nijinsky, Troy, Reference Point and Generous. However, Sea The Stars has a physique and temperament like few others, which has undoubtedly helped towards his record-breaking campaign, and his latest success was arguably his most impressive, running away with the Irish Champion Stakes like a fresh horse.
He still has questions to answer over a mile-and-a-half. A myth has developed that the Derby wasn't truly run, with the Ballydoyle pacemakers shaping the race more to suit the speed of Rip Van Winkle than the stamina of Fame And Glory, which played into the hands of Sea The Stars. That hypothesis doesn't stand scrutiny. Sea The Stars' timefigure (Timeform's mathematical calculation factoring in time and performance) in winning at Epsom was 118, better than New Approach (108) and Sir Percy (115) the previous two years, telling of a sound gallop, and invariably the Derby is won through stamina, so demanding a race is it for a three-year-old relatively early in the season. Furthermore, Sea The Stars was hardly all out at the end that day.
History is against him. As already mentioned, there has been many an upset in the long history of the Arc, seemingly influenced by the time of year, with what looked a worldbeater in the spring and summer often over the top come the autumn, and, in the last 40 years, the only Guineas winner to add the Arc five months on was Dancing Brave. However, in that time, few if any have had the brilliance and consitution of Sea The Stars, who has already bucked so many trends and broken so much new ground.
A lot of the credit goes to John Oxx, and he knows all too well how to stretch a special horse to the Arc, having done just that in 2000 with Sinndar, who was even better at Longchamp than he had been in winning the Derby in England and Ireland.
A stellar horse, unbeaten in top company all year, who's proven under the conditions and well ahead of the opposition on ratings, Sea The Stars looks almost impossible to beat. If only racing was that simple...
Of course, the whole meeting centres around the Arc, but there are six other Group Ones over the two days, including plenty of British interest. None of the Brits are likely to get near Goldikova in the Prix de la Foret on Saturday, but it will be a different story in the Prix de l'Abbaye if history is any guide, as the race has been virtually monopolised by British sprinters over the years.
The big hope for this renewal is Fleeting Spirit, who's the best we've got in that department, winning the July Cup and looking sure to follow up in the Sprint Cup at Haydock until the combination of six furlongs and softish ground stretched her late on. With the emphasis more on speed at Longchamp, she'll be very hard to beat, though the Abbaye has a habit of throwing up shock results.
Just as Sea The Stars is one of the modern greats for ability, Yeats has been too for achievement and longevity, and he's set for his swansong in Sunday's Prix du Cadran, for which he's likely to be favourite, though that may be more sentiment than sense. Four Ascot Gold Cups is a remarkable feat, one unlikely ever to be equalled, but, understandably, his form has tended to tail off each season after the Royal Meeting, and he's come up short in both previous cracks at the Cadran. Besides that, he cut a sorry figure (even allowing for the testing ground) in the Irish St Leger last month, and, with such a big question mark over him going into Sunday, plenty of layers will be keen to take him on.
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