Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Chic on the Cards; Quest for Greatness at Prix De l'Arc De Triomphe

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Chic on the Cards; Quest for Greatness at Prix De l'Arc De Triomphe

Article excerpt

AT the heart of the Bois de Boulogne next weekend, thoroughbreds of the highest order will slug it out in their quest for greatness.

For most observers, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is considered the ultimate test in equine prowess.

Elements of speed and style, aligned to the necessary demand for reservoirs of stamina, invariably make this end-of-season middle-distance challenge a spectacular affair. Whether it is the Parisian 'je ne sais quoi' or perhaps the picturepostcard-perfect backdrop, there is nowhere quite like Longchamp on Arc day.

Whose day that is, of course, remains to be seen.

Prix Niel winner Behkabad currently heads the market for Jean-Claude Rouget and the Aga Khan - but it is a close call.

In what had promised to be a rather unspectacular renewal of the great race but is now shaping up nicely, Fame And Glory, Sarafina and Cape Blanco also hold watertight claims - without ever threatening to reach the kind of superstardom accredited to Sea The Stars.

The participation of brilliant Derby winner Workforce would, however, change the complexion of the race and add an intriguing sprinkling of real star dust.

For all of the honourable competitors, the best story to come from the Arc would be if grand old statesman Youmzain finally delivers the goods, having finished second in the last three renewals.

But it is not just the big race that makes Longchamp in early October so enchanting.

Often forgotten amid the maelstrom of interest on Sunday, Arc weekend actually kicks off 24 hours earlier - and for the hedonists to arrive from Blighty, usually ends in the wee small hours of Monday morning.

But far more intoxicating than several bottles of Pinot Noir are the likes of the Prix de l'Abbaye, the Jean-Luc Lagardere and the Prix Marcel Boussac - all of which would usually deserve top billing on a racecard. …

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