Carling backable

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The Independent Online
FAIRYTALES abound in this afternoon's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. Can Carling, the Cinderella filly, complete her rags to riches story? Is the fairest of them all Pure Grain, who is calmed by seeing her own reflection in a mirror on the wall of her stable? Will the desert queen Balanchine come back from the dead to take Europe's top prize? Can Lammtarra, the boy wonder, win on only his fourth outing?

Today's is as competitive and fascinating an Arc as there has been in years. Though often touted as the season's middle- distance decider, it does not always confirm a champion. It's a race in which no quarter is given on a tactically tricky course. No British horse has won since 1989.

Lammtarra is bidding to become only the second horse (after Mill Reef) to win the Derby, King George and Arc. And, although he has been working well at home, he is unproven on soft going. Those suited by it include his stablemate Balanchine, last year's Arc winner, Carnegie, the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner Pure Grain and the King George third Strategic Choice.

Fillies have a good record in the Arc, and Carling, on her home turf, can repel Pure Grain, Balanchine and the Maktoum squad. For each-way value look to Strategic Choice and Gunboat Diplomacy, who looked very good on his return from injury at Maisons-Laffitte.