Dubai: The last five-year-old to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most prestigious flat race and the third richest in the world, was won by Godolphin’s Marienbard in 2002.
In Sunday’s renewal of the €5,000,000 contest, which returns to Longchamp, Paris, after a gap of two years, Godolphin are represented by Cloth Of Stars and Talismanic, a pair of five-year-olds who represent the race’s leading trainer (7 wins) and French great, Andre Fabre.
Surely, Godolphin, the stable created by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in 1992, must be hoping that the age factor can be a good open as they bid to maintain their winning momentum of 2018 by pulling off a shock win.
Cloth Of Stars, runner-up to Enable 12 months ago and third in the Group 2 Prix Foy on his most recent start is a best-priced 33/1 chance, as is Talismanic, winner of the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf last year and runner-up in the Foy last month.
The race was won by another Fabre contender, Waldgeist, who however does not have history on his side, as the Foy has not thrown up an Arc winner since Subotica in 1992.
Assessing the chances of Cloth Of Stars Fabre told the stable’s website: “He’s in great form and has had a good preparation for this race. He has the acceleration of a top-class horse on his day, as he showed when he ran a very good race to finish second to Enable.
“I feel he is going into this race as well as we can have him, and should things go right for him, he can run well.
“There are more questions to be answered this year compared to last year, so we’re more hopeful than confident of a big run, although he is outwardly in top form, appearing to be very well in himself,” he added.
The Frenchman also admitted to being impressed by Talismanic’s preparation going into Sunday’s mega race.
“While his form suggests he has a bit to find with the principals, I am hopeful that he, too, can run a good race,” Fabre said.
“His strength lies in his great attitude and his adaptability. I am not concerned about the going conditions, and I hope he produces his best and gives His Highness Shaikh Mohammad, as well as his many fans, some excitement in the race,” he added.
Godolphin French rider Mickael Barzalona remains aboard Talismanic, while Vincent Cheminaud is on Cloth Of Stars. Both riders are looking for their maiden Arc victories.
The Godolphin duo are among 19 runners in a contest dominated by three-year-old horses with nine hoping to continue the age group’s good record in the race with 18 wins from the last 24 runnings.
Another horse with a Dubai connection is the Shaikh Mohammad Obaid Al Maktoum-owned Defoe, who races out of British handler Roger Varian’s Newmarket-based stables.
A close second at Baden-Baden, Germany, on his most recent start, the four-year-old son of 2003 Arc hero Dhalakhani will need to step up his game if he hopes to make an impression in what appears to a race of exceptionally high quality.
Evs Enable, 7/2 Sea Of Class, 7/1 Waldgeist, 10/1 Kew Gardens, 25/1 Capri, 33/1 Cloth Of Stars, Defoe, Neufbosc, Study Of Man, Talismanic, 40/1 Patascoy, 50/1 Clincher, Magical, Way To Paris, 66/1 Hunting Horn, 100/1 Louis D’Or, Nelson, Salouen, Tiberian.