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A Preview Of The Arc

by Josh Powell | September 30, 2010

We don’t always get on with the French. And in this case ‘we’ means everyone who’s not French. Wars, Thierry Henry and what constitutes edible food have all been reasons behind our often fractious relationship with the Gallic community, but for one weekend every October there’s an event which we can all truly savour in unison. After a long season packed with storylines, the Arc Festival is a great opportunity to settle some scores once and for all. And keep up to date on the latest developments in the world of noxious-smelling cheese.
The highlight is the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Giving something a fancy French name isn’t always a sign of quality – Exhibit A being the fact if you order the highfaluting saucisses et les pommes purée in a Parisian restaurant you’ll end up with nothing more than good old bangers and mash €“ but in the case of the Arc, it’s truly top quality fare. We're not entirely sure what the race name translates to in English, but we’re certain it's not Race For Slow Learning 3 Legged Hairy Goats.
It may lack the superstar headliner of last year €“ to be honest few of the 88 renewals produced a winner to rival Sea The Stars – but it’s still a fascinating contest that brings together some of the top performers of the flat season. With French star Behkabad, Derby winner Workforce and Irish Derby winner, Cape Blanco all likely to take their chances, the race has the class and international flavour synonymous with the Longchamp showpiece.
Based on the trends during the week, Behkabad looks to be the option favoured most by punters. Home advantage and a 100% win record from his three appearances at the Paris track mean he presents a strong argument and the fact that the Aga Khan is no stranger to success in the Arc over the years may have something to do with the steady stream of support for the Jean-Claude Rouget trained runner. With top jockey Christophe Lemaire deciding to put all his eggs in the Behkabad basket, the optimism is understandable
Workforce lived up to his name on his most recent outing. By that we mean he looked lazy, disinterested and regretting not having pulled a sickie. But the public seem to be in forgiving mood and he’s been backed in from 8/1 to around the 5/1 mark for the race. When you win a Derby as impressively as he did, people tend to be more sympathetic. The disappointment at Ascot could be partially explained by underestimating his exertions at Epsom and after a long break, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he’ll turn up fresh and in great shape to recapture the form of that Classic win. If the money keeps coming, there's even a good chance he'll start as favourite.
Aidan O’Brien won the Arc for the one and only time with Dylan Thomas in 2007, but he’s expected to send a strong raiding party in his attempts to claim Arc number deux. Dylan Thomas claimed victory in the Irish derby before going on to win the showpiece at Longchamp the following year and Fame And Glory will be attempting to do the same. With the Ballydoyle supremo voicing concerns about the going at the Paris track, the one-time favourite for the race has drifted in the market but remains firmly amongst the leading contenders for the race. His tablemate, Cape Blanco was an impressive winner of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month and although at times can be an erratic performer, there's no doubt he possesses enough talent to be considered a genuine contender for glory.
So, in short, we don't have a brie-ze (boom, boom) who'll actually win it, but Youmzain is nailed on to finish second. His record of three 2nd place finishes in the Arc is amazing – obviously not as amazing as three wins in the Arc €“ but clearly he is a horse who feels so comfortable with life in France that he'd gladly gobble up a plate of snails when put in front of him at dinner rather than do what the rest of us would which is wonder who ever saw the potential to turn these harmless gastropods into dinner.
On the two most recent occasions he was doing so behind the respective favourites of those renewals. Impressive as it is, unless your profession is that of male escort, the habit of finishing second is unlikely to make you rich, so how can we benefit from Youmzain's perennial ‘always the bridesmaid never the bridezilla’ status? Backing him each way is always an option, but there is an alternative. Betting Without The Favourite is one way of taking the favourite out of the equation without the need for a horse assassin or dropping a suburban housewife's month's worth of Valium into his pre-race nosebag. If he happens to win the race, he wins the race and if he once again finishes runner-up to the favourite, he also wins. Obviously he doesn't get the 1st place prize money because he didn't actually win, but that won't matter to you as you make off with your winnings.
If you fancy turning this race into a ‘let’s beat those garlic-loving Frenchies’ battle, then allow us to tell you about our fantastic Match Betting. And also take this opportunity to welcome Daily Mail readers who may have stumbled across this preview. In our Match Betting, we pit one horse against the other and the rest of the race is largely irrelevant. The horse can trudge around like he's wearing concrete boots, but as long as he trudges around slightly faster than the opponent he's been paired with, then you’ll have landed a winning bet. Of course it may not be as lucrative as other betting options, but with just one horse to triumph over, it is a safer option. And there’s a lot to be said for playing safe. Just ask anyone who's ever turned down a plate of snails.

Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe Betting


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