Montjeu fit enough for dress rehearsal

If recent history is a guide, the winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and probably at least one of the placed horses as well, will be giving the Longchamp turf a test gallop today in one of the afternoon's three trials for assorted ages and sexes over the big-race course and distance. Of the 40 horses in the money in the last 10 runnings of the Paris showpiece, no fewer than 18 ran in either the Prix Niel, the Prix Foy or the Prix Vermeille.

If recent history is a guide, the winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and probably at least one of the placed horses as well, will be giving the Longchamp turf a test gallop today in one of the afternoon's three trials for assorted ages and sexes over the big-race course and distance. Of the 40 horses in the money in the last 10 runnings of the Paris showpiece, no fewer than 18 ran in either the Prix Niel, the Prix Foy or the Prix Vermeille.

Outstandingly the best guide in the period has been the Niel, for three-year-old colts, which has spotlighted five of the last six Arc winners: Montjeu, Sagamix, Helissio and Carnegie, who all won it, and Peintre Celebre, who finished an unlucky runner-up. Six line up this time, headed by Sinndar, accompanied by his faithful pacemaker Raypour.

Defeat for the Derby and Irish Derby winner would be a surprise, but if eyebrows are to be raised then the lightly-raced Sobieski, trained by an Arc master and a five-length winner at Deauville last month, could be a candidate.

The Foy, for four-year-olds and older, has produced only one Arc winner, Subotica, in the past decade, but six placed horses, including last year's second and third, El Condor Pasa and Croco Rouge. Despite negative rumblings about his absolute fitness, European middle-distance champion Montjeu should be capable of a perfect dress rehearsal with only four rivals, one of them his hare.

As a Group One contest the Vermeille, for three-year-old fillies, is an end in itself. The last victress to win the Arc was Three Troikas back in 1979, although Leggera and Magic Night have gone close recently. Today's field of 11includes the Epsom and Chantilly Oaks winners Love Divine and Egyptband, plus Melikah, whose sire and dam- Lammtarra and Urban Sea - both won an Arc.

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