The Gaitpost caught up with Vanessa Ryle, assistant producer and fledgling presenter at At The Races channel, ahead of what could be an historic weekend in Paris.
“In racing the word ‘legend’ is banded around so often that these days you may think it holds little weight when using it to describe a racehorse. But in Treve we are dealing with a filly who is in search of earning herself that superlative.
She will start a very short price favourite for Sundays €5m Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as she goes for an unprecedented 3rd consecutive win in flat racings major international show piece. When looking at her current odds of 11/10 you could be forgiven for thinking that she was a sure thing; sadly for her fans this is not the case. This years Arc brings with it her biggest challenge to date and she will need to beat her absolute best if she is to leave Longchamp on Sunday evening with true legendary status.
In the lead up to her 2nd victory in the Arc last year Treve, trained by Criquette Head-Marrek and owned by Al Shaqab Racing, had well documented issues with soundness and she had endured a troubled season. But this year she has had the opposite. Treve has raced 3 times in 2015 and has been imperious in all three starts. Her trainer and jockey both seem in agreement that, with her soundness issues under control, she may be better than ever.
Her biggest challenge to overcome may not be in the form of a horse but instead in the ground. Treve’s best performances, notably in both her Arc wins, the ground has been described as good or softer. The only time she did race on firmer ground was at Ascot in 2014 when it was universally agreed she moved terribly and put in a below par effort to finish 3rd to The Fugue. Now, this may have been a combination of factors, her hoof issues coming into play perhaps, but you can’t help but feel that if the sun continues to shine on that glorious Longchamp turf, then concerns for her ability to put up one of her best performances creep in.
Not only do you fear that Treve may not appreciate the ground but there is the added fear that the ground may play to the strengths of some of her rivals. England’s main challenger is our Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn, his participation in the Arc was in doubt when trainer John Gosden predicted the rain to fall in France. As this hasn’t been the case he is letting the star three-year old of the year take his turn in the mile and a half contest. There is no doubt that he is a top class colt but my concern would be that he has had a relatively long and tough season already and this could be one dance too many.
The strength of this year’s Arc field is notable as you look further down the betting and see that the French Derby winner New Bay is third favourite; Flintshire, second to Treve last year, is backable at 20/1; Aidan O’Brien’s Found is available at 16/1 and that Erupt, who until last month, was an unbeaten colt is also available at huge odds.
I genuinely believe that Treve will make history on Sunday but there is little juice left in her current price so you may well be looking elsewhere for something to back for a place.
The Dermot Weld trained Free Eagle has looked a top class colt throughout his career but has been plagued with niggling issues. Now a four year old, and with only 6 starts under his belt, he could still have some progression left in him.
Free Eagle won the Group 1 Prince Of Wales Stakes at Ascot over 10f on his seasonal reappearance- it takes a good horse to come out and do that after such a long lay off. The Weld team then gave him time and he lined up against Golden Horn and Found in the Irish Champion Stakes. Sadly for Free Eagle backers he was knocked sideways in the home straight by eventual winner Golden Horn and with that bump went any chance he had of going by the Gosden colt. Free Eagle will appreciate the drying ground and, having been lightly raced so far this year, you can see him taking a step forward from his last run. The opposite of where some of his opposition is at, Golden Horn specifically.
The two question marks over Pat Smullen’s mount are the trip and the draw. 12f is distance that the son of High Chaperral has not yet been tested at but you can only presume that the people closest to the colt must believe he will stay because they are probably not going to Paris just for a holiday! The draw of 12 is not ideal but it is far from the worst so we will have to sit and suffer with that one as there is nothing that can be done. At a general price of 16/1 I think Free Eagle is a value each way bet.
There are no fewer than SEVEN Group 1 races to enjoy on Sunday – all seven of which can be viewed on the At The Races channel Sky 415 or five of them will be shown on Channel 4 Racing.
But it is Treve who takes centre stage, who looks to make history. Can she be the Queen of Longchamp for one final time?”
by Vanessa Ryle
Listen to At The Race’s ‘The Final Furlong’ podcast on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Meeting Preview: