Jamie Lynch's Monthly High-Fives: October 2018

Enable and Frankie Dettori win the Arc at Chantilly
Will Enable win the Arc for the second year running?

Timeform chief correspondent Jamie Lynch picks out five important dates coming up in October, including the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp...

"...Waldgeist is a movable object, but Enable still looks an unstoppable force."

Jamie Lynch on the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe

Some A-listers have already tiptoed off the stage ahead of the Flat season's show-stopping finale that is October, including three of the best three-year-olds in Europe on Timeform ratings, and maybe the highest notes won't be hit in certain championship events because of the absence of one or all of Alpha Centauri, Saxon Warrior and Masar, but there are still sufficient races and rockets to ensure fireworks.

The spring introduces the cast of characters and the summer defines and refines them, but everything has been building and bubbling up to the autumn, and October acts as racing's month-long awards ceremony...

1. ARC DAY, Longchamp - Oct 7

This was about to begin with some doom-mongering data around the difficulties of winning back-to-back Arcs until I remembered Treve did exactly that just four years ago. However, you have to slide all the way back to the 'seventies, and Alleged, for the one before Treve, which tells a truer tale of the task ahead of Enable: successive Arcs would be a rare feat, but Enable is a rare filly.

Ahead of her belated comeback, there was heat on the Arc, and therefore her, from Poet's Word and Sea of Class, but the former is injured and the latter has had some cold water splashed on her, firstly by Enable's power-packed performance at Kempton and secondly by Waldgeist out of the traditional trials day at Longchamp. With all of his momentum, Waldgeist is a movable object, but Enable still looks an unstoppable force.

There's the title of Champion Sprinter still up for grabs, and it's Battaash's if he wants it, only needing to do what he did in last year's Abbaye, but we've seen almost as much of the Mr Hyde as the Dr Jekyll within Battaash this season, not one for following scripts, more an instinctive improviser, though nothing can touch him when he fancies it.

2. DEWHURST STAKES, Newmarket - Oct 13

He has won a Group 1, with a Group 1 performance, in the National Stakes, so it might have been more the Dewhurst needing him rather than Quorto needing the Dewhurst, but his absence from it smacks of safety first, and not running feels almost like running scared, in fear of finding one Too Darn Hot to handle.

Quorto raised the bar for the generation at the Curragh, pushed into it by Anthony Van Dyck, whereas Too Darn Hot was coasting by the end of the Champagne, his glass still half full, saving some to spray across Newmarket's Rowley Mile in the Dewhurst. And, with Quorto by-passing the gauntlet rather than picking it up, the Dewhurst is Too Darn Hot's for the taking, unreasonable to expect the wider-eyed Sangarius to match him in October, though next May could be a different story.

The day before the Dewhurst is the Fillies' Mile, a sub-standard division so far, as the top of the two-year-old girls' class are more sprinters. Aidan O'Brien is, unusually, still perfecting his pecking order, if indeed there is one, as many as eleven in the mix for him in the Fillies' Mile, fostering the feeling of a starless squad for Ballydoyle, at least amongst the first-season females.

3. CHAMPIONS DAY, Ascot - Oct 20

What price a Gosden Group 1 treble on Champions Day? Well, at ante-post odds on the Betfair Sportsbook, it's around 12/1 that Stradivarius, Roaring Lion and Lah Ti Dar all do the business. The one and only issue with the first two is the stresses and strains of a full-on campaign, beginning to show on Stradivarius at York and bound to show on Roaring Lion at some point, but both keep coming up with the answers. For Lah Ti Dar, it's not that's she's had a hard season, but she did have a hard race in the St Leger, put through the grinder by Kew Gardens, magnifying the management out of it, and a tricky task becomes a taxing one if the rain arrives at Ascot, as Bateel then becomes an altogether scarier opponent.

The broadly black-and-white questions of the Champion Stakes, the Long Distance Cup and the Fillies and Mares are different to the more complex conundrums in the QEII and Sprint Stakes, the milers much of a muchness in 2018 outside of Alpha Centauri and the sprinters taking it in turns, but more on that at the end.

4. VERTEM FUTURITY STAKES, Doncaster - Oct 27

(Or the Racing Post Trophy as we know it). Quorto has done his work for the year, but if the one he smothered at the Curragh, Anthony Van Dyck, is to extend his education ahead of a classic campaign then this is a very good spot for him, first and foremost because it would involve a return to a mile, over which he won by eight lengths on his only start to date at that far. He's more a Derby horse than the other shooting stars amongst the two-year-olds, but, if getting the go-ahead for Doncaster, he'll be getting a thorough workout from Madhmoon.

There's a power and purpose about Madhmoon which makes you think he's got Group 1 quality, the way he's motored through two races, both at Leopardstown over a mile, the latter a Group 3, suggesting he's got the tools and talent to ask serious questions of Anthony Van Dyck should the match-up materialise.

5. COX PLATE, Moonee Valley - Oct 27

Hours before Doncaster comes on duty, those of us up early enough are highly likely to witness history in the making as wondermare Winx goes for an unprecedented fourth straight Cox Plate. She's looked as good as new since resuming in August, and the record, in truth, looks a mere formality for her.

The one interesting wrinkle is the emergence of thee-year-old The Autumn Sun, who looks, potentially at least, like he's got the gear to give Winx something new to think about, tailor made for a Cox Plate, but the fact he comes from the same stable - that of Chris Waller - means that the risky roadblock may not be put in Winx's way.

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