DAQMAN’S 14-1 PORTLAND WIN GRABS 53 POINTS IN ONE RACE: Daqman took Doncaster’s Portland Handicap by the scruff of the neck yesterday, laying the two losing morning favourites and hitting the jackpot with Nocturnal Affair (WON 14-1). It brought him more than 53 points profit from one race.
FOUR LAYS UP OUT OF FIVE: The two Portland losers, York Glory (unplaced 11-2 fav) and Zero Money (unplaced 7-1), took his successful lays in St Leger week to four out of five.
MEANDRE ARC VALUE: Daqman previews the Arc trials in his Longchamp analysis today, and advocates a Betdaq value bet on Meandre at 9.6 this morning.
Spot the Arc winner. Sarafina, Meandre, Galikova, Reliable Man, St Nicholas Abbey and Vadamar, plus the three best horses in Japan, all put leading Arc chances on the line today in a series of trials at Longchamp.
12.30 Longchamp (Prix Du Petit Couvert): A sprint to start with, and English horses are generally much better than the French but, for value, have a pound on a virtual unknown over here but with a growing reputation in France.
Spectacle Du Mars will be backed by the home crowds on the PMU but ignored by the English in our home markets as we support Hamish McGonagall and Prohibit.
1.00 Longchamp (Prix Foy): St Nicholas Abbey, the colt who came in from the cold, can step into the Arc spotlight if he can beat Sarafina on her home ground, but it’s a tall order.
‘St Nick’, winter favourite for the Classics of 2010 after winning the Racing Post trophy, lost his Group-1 standing after a flop in the Guineas shut down his three-year-old career, until Epsom this summer.
He beat Midday, winner of the 2010 Prix Vermeille on today’s card, when gamely taking the Coronation Cup by a length.
One of Midday’s victims in last year’s Vermeille, Sarafina (third) stepped up greatly on that with a similar spot, third, in the Arc behind Workforce.
She, too, got back into the Group-1 limelight by winning the Grand Prix de St. Cloud in June and will be a hot favourite here.
But, in what is likely to be a tactical affair between just four runners, I fancy Nakayama Festa, who goes well fresh and finished two-and-a-half lengths in front of Sarafina on very soft ground in the Arc.
The Japanese five-year-old hasn’t been seen since November but won the Tokyo Metropolitan on firm on his first run back last year and can belie his 33-1 Arc quote and finished second in this race last year.
1.30 Longchamp (Prix Niel): This is the big one, as far as I’m concerned, with Meandre my current fancy for the Arc at 9.6 value on Betdaq (he’s 7-1 with several big bookmakers).
Meandre burst on to the scene by beating two Derby winners, Reliable Man and Treasure Beach, eased down in a very fast run Grand Prix De Paris. In fact, nearly four seconds fast, despite the good-to-soft ground.
Meandre again has the ground to suit today and looks like nap material to repeat his domination of Reliable Man, with King Of Arnor needing more cut and Vadamar back after a break since disappointing in the Epsom Derby.
John Gosden and William Buick, fresh from the stable’s St Leger double yesterday, won the Foy here last year with Duncan, and their Colombian cannot be lightly dismissed, though he has three lengths to make up on Reliable Man (French Derby), so seems to face a rear view of Meandre.
2.40 Longchamp (Prix Du Moulin): The big Group-1 milers – Frankel, Goldikova and the retired Canford Cliffs – are all missing, but Excelebration’s six-lengths Hungerford win (Dubawi Gold fourth) sets him up for this.
A line through Frankel suggests that Rio De La Plata and Rajsaman will have to improve and Zoffany has since looked flattered by his close proximity to Frankel in the early summer.
But the one they all have to beat is Planteur, who is a formidable force at Longchamp (form figures there 122111) and has beaten Sarafina there this season.
3.15 Longchamp (Prix Vermeille): Once upon a time, this race was the big stepping-stone to the Arc as fillies like Allez France dominated the championship at Longchamp on the first Sunday in October.
That was restored after a long dearth of great French fillies and mares when the Aga Khan’s Zarkava won the 2008 Vermeille and went on to win the Arc, and of course Goldikova over shorter distances has since become the new Allez France.
Now Goldikova’s half-sister, Galikova, bids to prove that she is Arc material. Though she gained revenge at Deauville for her Prix De Diane defeat by Golden Lilac, she still has to win a Group 1.
Olivier Peslier will have to do a lot better than he did at Doncaster on Sea Moon yesterday. Yes, any jockey can get trapped on the rails, but Doncaster and 14 furlongs to sort yourself out is child’s play alongside the tricky short straight at Longchamp.
Of course, Peslier knows Longchamp infinitely better than I do but, when a jockey is out of form, he’s hard to trust until he gets back in his rhythm.
Galikova has already beaten Shareta and Wavering, and Wonder Of Wonders has come up just short in two Oaks, so maybe the progressive Testosterone is the danger, particularly if she gets the run of the race.
4.20 Longchamp (Prix Gladiateur): Kasbah Bliss goes for his third Gladiateur after his best run for a while, second to Saturday’s Irish Leger dead-heater, Jukebox Jury, at Deauville when Ascot Gold Cup placed Brigantin was third.
The form through Ley Hunter suggests the French pair have the beating of Shamanova and Allied Powers but by this time rain may be making a difference to the outcome.
LONGCHAMP (all bets to win 20 points): 12.30 Spectacle Du Mars, 1.00 Nakayama Festa, 1.30 Meandre (nap), 2.40 Planteur.
ANTE-POST: WIN-40 JACKPOT: BET 4.6pts win MEANDRE at 9.6 Betdaq offers (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, October 2)