The week we have all been waiting for is upon us. Yes, it’s Arc week. Europe’s second most prestigious horse race only after the Epsom Derby is always a race to savour.
I wrote a piece a few weeks ago on why I feel Enable won’t win the Arc and as you know by now, I am not afraid to voice an opinion. That’s what racing is all about though isn’t it? It wouldn’t be much fun if we all shared the same view.
I glanced at the Arc betting this morning and I had to rub my eyes because I thought I was seeing things. Enable is now the 7/4 favourite and Love is currently trading at 11/4 which looks huge. In my view, they have the odds the wrong way around.
Then, to my utter dismay, I see Stradivarius is a clear third favourite at odds of 7/1. I am not an odds-compiler, that is for certain, but I think both of John Gosden’s runners are now ridiculous prices.
This piece is about Bjorn Nielsen’s superstar Stradivarius. One might think “Why are you calling him a superstar then write a piece stating he has no chance in the Arc?”.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a superstar but if you play him left-back he’s not going to score goals is he? Stradivarius is quite simply out of his comfort zone this weekend and he will struggle. Here is why….
1. He is a long-distance stayer
On pedigree alone, Stradivarius should be an Arc horse. Sired by the incredible Sea The Stars, his DNA tells us that he should have all the qualities needed to win the race.
However, he is simply better over proper staying distances ranging from 1m 6f to 2m 4f. In June he was absolutely incredible in the Ascot Gold Cup, beating Nayef Road by ten lengths eased down. That’s not to say he’s no good over a mile and a half, he just isn’t as good.
2. Frankie jumps ship
This is an obvious one but it is still a worthy point. Frankie Dettori is a jockey for the big day and he seldom chooses the wrong one. He gets the leg up on Enable and that is the correct decision. I don’t fancy Enable but she will be well clear of Stradivarius.
Olivier Peslier will get the ride on this boy and to be fair, nobody knows Longchamp like the Frenchman. He might well be value for a length or two around there but there’s a reason Frankie jumped ship, it’s because he knows he won’t win.
3. He is 0/3 over the distance
You would expect an Arc winner to at least have winning form over the distance. Well, Stradivarius doesn’t. He has a miserable record of no wins from three runs over the mile and a half trip.
In May 2017, he was sent off favourite for a handicap at Chester over the trip and finished 2nd. On his return this year, he was very laboured over the trip when 3rd behind Ghaiyyath and Anthony Van Dyck in the Coronation Cup, beaten five lengths.
Sent off the 6/10 favourite in the Prix Foy at Longchamp a couple of weeks ago, it was an improved effort but he was beaten by Anthony Van Dyck. Although a former Epsom Derby winner, that was his first win since.
4. He is too old
He is by no means an old horse but Stradivarius is too old to win an Arc. You have to go way back to Motrico in 1932 to find an older winner of the race.
He did it as a seven year old but no six year old has ever won this race so that is a big stat he will have to break if he is to win.
5. His form isn’t good enough
We usually see Stradivarius taking on dour stayers in long-distance races. Most of his rivals in these races would be beaten half the track in an Arc. Quite simply, his form isn’t good enough and the ratings suggest that too. He is rated 3lb inferior to Enable but has to give her 3lb in this race.
When he did face quality opposition this year, he got beat fair and square. He was no match for Ghaiyyath or Anthony Van Dyck and the latter would have very little chance in an Arc. The rain is falling in France so if it turns into a proper staying contest then it would improve his chances but I find it very difficult to see him being good enough over this distance.