Golan proves credentials for Arc excursion

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In the space of 24 hours the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has been transformed from a pallid impostor of the autumnal championship of Europe to a contest which now has a colourful palette of possibilities.

In the space of 24 hours the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has been transformed from a pallid impostor of the autumnal championship of Europe to a contest which now has a colourful palette of possibilities.

In Britain and France over the weekend, all four favourites won their Arc trials and mobilised their supporters. At the same time, an engrossing balance emerged with protagonists from Britain, Ireland and France now jostling for prominence. The Arc, once again, will be a compelling adventure.

Milan had started the programme with an awesome victory in the 225th St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday. Yesterday there came more from the vanguard at Longchamp.

Aquarelliste maintained her unbeaten record in the Prix Vermeille, Hightori cemented his place at the top of the lists in the Prix Foy, but the most persuasive performance came from the rejuvenated Golan, winner of the Prix Niel. The last-named event has become a neon signpost for the Arc. Four of the last five winners of the big one have been winners of that particular trial and the fifth, Peintre Celebre, should have won the Niel.

Golan, the 2,000 Guineas winner and Derby runner-up, had been in the wilderness in recent months, but yesterday a dream was revived. Michael Stoute's colt pushed to the front just after the entrance to the straight and held on when pressed by the leading French colts Anabaa Blue and Chichicastenango. It could, according to Kieren Fallon, have been even more impressive.

"He was in front too soon," the jockey said. "I got a perfect opening and I had to take that. He felt good and loves it round here. He is definitely an Arc horse if he gets a low draw and a good gallop."

This performance, and the weight of history, was enough to persuade Coral to go 3-1 about his Arc prospects. Ladbrokes offer a lighthouse price of 10-1. That was the same station William Hill had found for Milan after his devastating win on Town Moor. The price no longer exists, though the memory of victory for Aidan O'Brien's colt will be harder to erase.

Michael Kinane, Milan's jockey, had been outmanoeuvred in his homeland the previous weekend, made to look as if he had just climbed out of the cradle when he partnered Galileo. Here, though, Kinane demonstrated that the most significant part of jockeyship can occur out of the saddle.

Saturday's was virtually a two-mile race, the starched flags at Town Moor informing us that the wind was blowing directly down the straight. Kinane understood he would need cover from the elements, and tucked himself behind the equine windbreak of the main body of the field. By the time he emerged two out there was much work to be done, yet he was in front by the furlong pole.

It was a day which almost certainly confirmed Aidan O'Brien as the champion trainer of Britain. It is not an honour which will alter the man's hat size. That is not his way. On Saturday, he could be seen brushing the flanks and mane of Milan in the Doncaster pre-parade ring. He was hands on and hands in, washing himself down in a bucket before stepping out to see his four charges perform.

Afterwards, the trainer took self effacement to new levels, crediting everyone but himself from the Ballydoyle operation.

Michael Tabor, Milan's joint-owner, was more forthcoming about O'Brien's championship. "It's a phenomenal feat and I'm sure you could have got fair odds about it at the beginning of the season," he said. "It's all credit to Aidan because he pays all the sort of attention to detail you would wish for in somebody handling your bloodstock. He's a man devoted to what he does. A good man to have in the camp, big-time."

Tabor had flown in that morning from the sales in Kentucky and displayed the swiftness of movement that was to characterise his horse later in the day. Tabor's private jet landed at Farnborough at 8.15am and, following a sprint across the capital, he caught a train to Doncaster. He arrived just in time to see the Leger and Kinane putting on the Humpty Dumpty cap reserved for the winner. Now he can look forward to another breathless day out with Milan in Paris.

LONGCHAMP

Going: Good

2.45: (1m 4f Group 2 Prix Niel)

1. GOLAN (K Fallon); 2. Anabaa Blue; 3. Chichicastenango. 7 ran. Storming Home (7th). 3/ 4, 2. (Sir M Stoute). Pari-Mutuel: 2.30; 1.80, 2.60. SF 11.60.

3.15: (1m 4f Group 1 Prix Vermeille)

1. AQUARELLISTE (D Boeuf); 2. Diamilina; 3. Mare Nostrum. 12 ran. Mot Juste (4th), Zanzibar (6th), Inchiri (9th) sht-nk, 2 1/ 2. (E Lellouche). Pari-Mutuel: 2.60; 1.20, 1.30, 2.00. DF 3.50

3.45: (1m 4f Group 2 Prix Foy)

1. HIGHTORI (G Mossé) 2. Idaho Quest; 3. Slew The Red. 6 ran. Little Rock (4th). 1/ 2, 3/ 4. (P Demercastel) Pari-Mutuel: 1.50; 1.30, 2.50. SF 10.10.

ANTE-POST ODDS

PRIX DE L'ARC DE TRIOMPHE: (Longchamp, 7 October). Coral: 3-1 Golan, 7-2 Aquarelliste, 6-1 Hightori, 8-1 Milan, 10-1 Morshdi, 12-1 Anabaa Blue, 14-1 others. (5-2 Sakhee with a run).

William Hill: 4-1 Aquarelliste, Golan, 5-1 Milan, 13-2 Hightori, 8-1 Maille Pistol, 10-1 Anabaa Blue, Nayef, 14-1 others. (3-1 Sakhee with a run)

Ladbrokes: 7-2 Aquarelliste, 4-1 Hightori, 6-1 Milan, 10-1 Golan, Maille Pistol, 12-1 Egyptband, 14-1 Anabaa Blue, Morshdi, 16-1 others. (5-2 Sakhee with a run).

Tote: 4-1 Milan, 9-2 Aquarelliste, 6-1 Golan, 7-1 Hightori, 9-1 Anabaa Blue, 12-1 Maille Pistol, Morshdi, Nayef, 14-1 others.

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