Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe: Impact of draw and going
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe takes place on Sunday and Simon Rowlands has examined what influence the going will have on the draw.
"So, in summary, the firmer the ground becomes the more it may assist horses drawn in low-numbered stalls in the Arc and the less it may assist horses drawn in low-numbered stalls in the Abbaye."
The sun is out in Paris, by all accounts, and the odds against Golden Horn winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe have been cut markedly with the expectation that good going or firmer will result in him running. The going at Longchamp is currently described as "soft", but conditions could well dry significantly between now and post time.
That gives a good reason to revisit last week's analysis of the draw for the big race, which was done with no knowledge of what the ground was likely to be next Sunday.
A few clued-up readers contacted me through Twitter to point out that the going itself may make a difference not just to which horses will run but to how the draw pans out. Those 14 most recent runnings of the Arc took place on ground ranging from "good to firm" (2004, 2006, 2011 and 2014) to "heavy" (2012), according to Timeform.
It is worth looking at those original draw figures for all going alongside those for good or firmer alone (nine of the 14 races).
The modest advantage for horses drawn in stalls 1 to 4 on all going is more than doubled as judged by % of rivals beaten on ground that Timeform described as good or firmer. The 36 horses who ran from such stalls made the first three 1.62 times as often as could be expected by chance. Outer stalls also fared nowhere near as well as overall once softer-ground Arcs were excluded.
If the ground does turn out to be good or firmer this coming weekend, then the draw in the Arc could well count for plenty, despite earlier suggestions to the contrary.
The Arc will be the highlight of an outstanding day's racing on Sunday, but it is not the only big race which could be affected by the draw.
In particular, the Prix de l'Abbaye, run over a straight 1000 metres, is worth investigation. The same measures were used as for the Arc, with the data separated into overall and good or firmer going.
Interestingly, an opposite effect seems to be at play here. Low-numbered stalls have been best taken overall, but they have fared a fair bit better on good to soft ground or softer than on good or firmer.
On a sound surface, stalls towards the centre have fared better (stalls 9 to 12 have been placed 1.21 times as often as by chance and have the best %RB of 55.3). Some dire figures for horses drawn on the outside are far more respectable if Abbayes run on softer going are excluded.
The wins of Continent (drawn 16) and Marchand d'Or (drawn 20) were both on ground described by Timeform as "good". The five softer-ground Abbayes were won by horses drawn 1 (Imperial Beauty in 2001 and Gilt Edge Girl in 2010), 6 and 7 (twice).
So, in summary, the firmer the ground becomes the more it may assist horses drawn in low-numbered stalls in the Arc and the less it may assist horses drawn in low-numbered stalls in the Abbaye.
As a guide, the average winning times for Abbayes this century divided by Timeform going descriptions have been as follows: heavy, 61.17s; soft, 58.87s; good to soft, 57.50s; good, 56.06s; good to firm, 55.44s.