Orfevre starts as favorite to win Arc de Triomphe
PARIS (AP) — After being overtaken right at the end by long-shot Solemia in last year’s dramatic finish, jockey Christophe Soumillon will try to make amends as Orfevre again starts favorite to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
Orfevre, Japan’s 2011 Horse of the Year after winning a Triple Crown, received a favorable draw on Friday in stall 8 — much better than last year’s outside No. 18 position.
The positive draw saw the 5-year-old’s odds trimmed to 9-4 while Treve’s odds went out to 9-2 for a bad draw in a strong 18-horse field.
Orfevre looked to be a sure winner last year when he took the lead with about 300 meters to go. But the 33-1 rank outsider Solemia, urged on by French jockey Olivier Peslier, moved past Orfevre on the outside.
While Soumillon looks to make up for last year, Peslier wants to make outright history as he rides for Andre Fabre on Intello, although soft ground is to the 3-year-old colt’s disadvantage as reflected by odds of 12-1 with leading bookmakers.
Peslier is tied on four Arc wins with Yves Saint-Martin, Jacques Doyasbere, Pat Eddery and Freddy.
He won in 1998 on Sagamix, on Peintre Celebre in 1997 — setting a course record that held until Danedream beat it in 2011 — and Helissio in 1996.
“I think better ground would definitely be an advantage for him,” Peslier said. “He always runs his race, he’s very easy to ride and has a lot of speed yet he’s won well at 2,100 meters, so I think he goes (to the Arc) with good credentials.”
Solemia started from the No. 6 post, which has produced four of the last eight Arc winners, and this year’s lucky starter from there will be Aidan O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World. O’Brien’s other contender, the St. Leger winner Leading Light, starts from No. 5.
Orfevre won the Prix Foy for a second straight year, and the 3-year-old Kizuna, Japan’s second entry, won the Prix Niel, where he beat Ruler of the World.
“Soumillon said he’s in good shape and that he was happy as well. From here on the only thing I can do is to make sure the horse is in tiptop shape. After that, it’s all up to Soumillon and Orfevre,” trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said. “Winning the Arc has been the hope and dream of Japanese racing and, as one of the representatives of Japanese racing, I hope we’ll be able to realize that dream.”
Novellist, a 4-year-old by German Triple Crown champion Monsun, is unbeaten this season and won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot this year.
“Everything has gone smooth and fine since his last race,” trainer Andreas Wohler said. “So we are looking forward to Sunday.”
Frankie Dettori was tipped to challenge strongly on Treve, but he has been ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his right ankle on Wednesday. The Italian jockey was unseated from Eland Ally before a race.