PARIS, FRANCE – On Sunday, October 6, ParisLongchamp racecourse will host five Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, including the feature race on the card, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as well as the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines, Prix de l’Opera Longines, Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, Nov 1-2.
Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
The $5,453,748 (€ 5,000,000) Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), is set to turn into a vintage edition should Enable (GB), the world’s top-rated racehorse, win the race for a historic third time.
Enable, who became the first Arc winner to lift the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last year, will once again be partnered by Frankie Dettori who holds the record for most Arc victories (6) and is enjoying his most successful season to date with 16 Group 1 victories.
Trained by John Gosden, the five-year-old mare who is owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, has enjoyed a perfect preparation after beating the Aidan O’Brien trained Magical (IRE) by 2 ¾ lengths in the Juddmonte Yorkshire Oaks (G1).
“Everything has gone very smoothly this year,” confirms Gosden. “I didn’t want to start her in April or May knowing that the target was the Arc, so she didn’t run until the Eclipse, then the King George and the Yorkshire Oaks and so far everything has gone to plan.”
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Runner-up Magical will feature once more amongst her 11 opponents. The four-year-old mare travels to France on the back of a convincing performance in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1), but in four encounters with Enable, she has yet to beat her.
Aidan O’Brien will also saddle Japan (GB) who is unbeaten in three starts since finishing third in the Investec Epsom Derby (G1). Following his defeat of Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) winner Crystal Ocean in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) he has largely been considered the greatest threat to Enable winning the Arc a record third time.
“We always thought a lot of Japan,” said O’Brien. “We were delighted with his last run and he has had some nice bit of time from York to Longchamp. He has a great mind, he is a good traveller, he can quicken and he gets the 1 ½ m well.”
Japan is drawn on the outside of Enable in post 10, while QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club (G1) winner Sottsass (FR), the chief hope for the home team, has drawn the inside rail. Owned by Peter Brant and trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, the half-brother to 2018 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Sistercharlie (IRE) recently won the Qatar Prix Niel (G2) at ParisLonchamp.
“It was not a bad thing that he got boxed in in his Arc trial,” says Rouget. “He only had to quicken over a short distance in the end and won it going away. He broke the track record in the French Derby, but has never encountered the likes of Enable, so we shall see.”
The outside draw, considered notoriously difficult to overcome in the Arc, has gone to the Charlie Appleby trained four-year-old Ghaiyyath (IRE), who made a huge impression when winning the Grosser Preis von Baden (G1) in Germany by 14 lengths.
Waldgeist (GB), who finished fourth to Enable in last year’s Arc, is drawn better in three but is unlikely to appreciate the soft ground.
The Arc is never complete without a Japanese raider and this year’s line-up includes Fierement, (JPN) winner of the Tenno Sho (G1) in the spring, Blast Onepiece (JPN) and Kiseki (JPN), runner-up to Almond Eye in the Japan Cup (G1) 2018.
The $548,507 (€500 000) Prix de l’Opera Longines (G1), a qualifier for the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf provides John Gosden with another opportunity to get his name on the board at ParisLongchamp when he saddles Mehdaayih (GB), the runner-up to Deirdre (JPN) in the Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1).
Francis Graffard will be hoping that Watch Me (FR), the winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot (G1) can bounce back to form, while three times Breeders’ Cup Mile winning trainer Freddy Head is counting on the four-year-old George Strawbridge owned With You (GB) to finally get herself onto the podium this season.
British raiders have lifted the last seven editions of the $384,144 (€350 000) Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and this year the market is headed once more by the Charlie Hills trained Battaash (IRE). Owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Battaash won this race in 2017 and returns to ParisLongchamp after a scintillating victory in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York where he beat Soldier’s Call by 3 ¾ lengths, and earned an automatic berth into the Turf Sprint.
Mabs Cross (GB), last year’s winner, was well held by Battaash at York and will have to bring out his A-game if he wants to successfully defend his title.
French hope lies with the supplemented Spinning Memories (IRE), who has proven himself a revelation since his trainer Pascal Bary dropped him back to 6 furlongs.
The $438,882 (€ 400 000) Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, could provide the Jessica Harrington trained and Niarchos Family owned Albigna (IRE) with an opportunity to score at the highest level.
Breeders’ Cup Classic winning trainer Andre Fabre is counting on the Godolphin owned maiden winner Bionic Woman (IRE) to successfully negotiate this step up in class.
The Chantilly based handler is also saddling Victor Ludorum (GB) for Godolphin in the $438,882 (€400 000) Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
The Shamardal colt is unbeaten in two starts but leads the home team with the supplemented Kenway (FR), a winner of the Prix la Rochette (G3) and listed winner Helter Skelter (FR), is looking very competitive.