Postponed at risk of being Found out in Arc


Irish filly Found can end a run of five successive runners-up spots in Group One races and land Europe’s most prestigious race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, at Chantilly on Sunday.

The tough as teak four-year-old — who had a nightmare run in the race last year — could give record-breaking Irish handler Aidan O’Brien only his second win in the Arc, the previous one Dylan Thomas coming nine years ago.

Found, one of three runners saddled by the 46-year-old trainer, always runs her heart out and despite being beaten by hot favourite Postponed in the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June she ran a superb prep race for the Arc in finishing second in the Irish Champion Stakes in September.

Her win in the Breeders Cup Turf last year was due reward for a super campaign and O’Brien is in no doubt of her class.

“She’s something special,” he said.

Postponed, though, comes to the Arc as the horse to beat, with an impressive win in August in the Juddmonte International Stakes where he put Highland Reel, another of O’Brien’s runners on Sunday, in his place.

His trainer Roger Varian, who was sent Postponed by owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum last year after he removed them from Luca Cumani, believes his star will cope with the tricky Chantilly track which is hosting the race while Longchamp undergoes much-needed renovations.

“It’s going to be a strong race and there are lots of horses I respect,” said Varian.

“I don’t see Chantilly presenting any issues. He’s shown how versatile he is on a variety of different tracks.”

Varian, who suffered a personal tragedy in 2010 when his brother was murdered, remains unflustered by the pressure of having the favourite, who will be ridden by Sardinia-born Andrea Atzeni.

“To be honest, we wouldn?t know that it’s Arc week here as we?ve so much else going on,” Varian told The Guardian on Friday.

“I should think that the reality of having the Arc favourite will probably sink in on Sunday, no doubt it will be a mixture of excitement and nerves, but this week is just like any other.”

There are, however, as should be expected in Europe’s most valuable race plenty of dangers lurking most notably Japanese runner Makahiki, New Bay, trained by seven-time Arc winning handler Andre Fabre, and Epsom and Irish Derby champion Harzand trained by Dermot Weld who has yet to win the Arc.

The Japanese have dreamt of winning the Arc since sending over their first runner in 1969 and went heartbreakingly close with Orfevre in 2012 but with victory beckoning he veered across the track and got edged within yards of the line.

Thus whilst Postponed carries the weight of being favourite Makahiki bears the considerably heavier burden of the hopes of a nation.

His French jockey Christophe Lemaire professed himself to be happy with the manner in which the Japanese Derby winner, who warmed up for the Arc with victory in the Arc prep race the Prix Niel last month, had performed in his last gallop this week.

“Running up to the Arc I was looking for signs he is in good condition and I was reassured on that front,” he said.

New Bay, who won the French Derby at Chantilly last year, arrives on the back of a terrific fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes and with a lot of confidence in the camp.

“Andre is very happy with him — we couldn?t be more pleased,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.

Should there be a shock O’Brien’s third runner Order of St George — winner of the Ascot Gold Cup this year — could provide it and give Frankie Dettori his fifth winner in the race.

“It’s difficult to see any flaws in the favourite but my horse is trained by a genius,” the Italian wrote in his blog for Ladbrokes.

© 2016 AFP

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