All precautions were being taken yesterday to prevent the unthinkable prospect that Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe might take place with the man of the moment, Frankie Dettori, watching from the sidelines. The participation of his regular mount, Classic Cliche, remains in serious doubt and the list of alternative rides is a brief one.
Classic Cliche missed a gallop on Sunday after looking dull in his coat and a verdict on whether he would run in Europe's most important race was due to be made after the colt cantered yesterday morning. Now the decision has been deferred, leaving Dettori's agent, Matty Cowing, with the problem of ensuring that his man is not left behind when the other possible rides are snapped up.
"We've been offered the ride on Khalid Abdullah's Sunshack, Rae Guest rang this morning about My Emma and John Gosden's Tamure is still in the race," Cowing said last night. My Emma, who won the Prix Vermeille over the Arc's course and distance on her most recent outing, would need to be supplemented for the race by her small Newmarket stable. The cost would be pounds 52,000, roughly half her earnings from the Vermeille, and the decision would have to be made on Thursday. Easy ground is required if she is to produce her best.
The Arc favourite, Helissio, came through his final piece of work at Chantilly in good style yesterday. The dual Group One winner was put through his paces over 10 furlongs under Olivier Peslier, who was not hard on his mount once the Elie Lellouche charge had drawn upsides the leaders. "Helissio gave me a good feel and was very relaxed," Peslier said.
Helissio, beaten just once in his career when refusing to settle in the French Derby, has gained his biggest wins in the Prix Lupin and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
After the latter win in July, the Spanish-owned colt was given a break and successfully reappeared in the Group Two Prix Niel at Longchamp earlier this month. Trained especially with the Arc in mind, Helissio took the Niel in good style from Darazari, another of his rivals on Sunday.
Dettori, meanwhile, has moved into another favourite's role following his seven-timer at Ascot on Saturday. He now heads the market, at 6-4 (from 8-1 before Saturday's success), to win the BBC TV Sports Personality of the Year. Dettori has relegated the Olympic rower Steve Redgrave to 13-8 joint second favourite with Damon Hill.