The great man of continental Flat racing has the diminutive size yet appetite for battle that distinguished a countryman when they used to have emperors about the place. And nothing stirs Fabre's competitive instincts as much as when the English come to wrest his nation's most fabulous prize.
Five times Fabre has put the invaders to the sword, with the aid of Trempolino (1987), Subotica (1992), Carnegie (1994), Peintre Celebre (1997) and Sagamix (1998). And now, according to the markets at least, he is about to do it again. The favourite for Sunday's scamper through the Bois de Boulogne is Hurricane Run, the most celebrated resident at Fabre's Avenue de Bourbon complex in Chantilly.
The son of another Arc winner in Montjeu already has persuasive form in the book via his victory in the Irish Derby. Hurricane Run's success in the traditional Arc prep of the Prix Niel earlier this month may not have been as impressive, but there was an ominous look about it. Fabre confirms that his colt has emerged a more ripened and potent warrior for that experience.
"He's like a teenager, he's maturing all the time and I couldn't be happier with his condition," the trainer said yesterday. "I'm happy with all his work. He has taken his race in the Niel very well. He needed his prep race.
"Hurricane Run is a lazy type of horse. He's different to Peintre Celebre in that he doesn't have the same acceleration. If he wins it will be my sixth win in the Arc and it will be time for me to retire!"
If he has to fear anything on Sunday, Fabre is wary of the Aga Khan's unbeaten Shawanda, another with gleaming armour in the home guard. "I've been impressed with her action and confirmation and what she's done," Fabre said. "It has been a long time since a three-year filly has won the Arc but she has a good chance."
While the ground at Longchamp is currently described as good, a decision will still be taken today about whether to water. The conditions seem certain to suit the Derby winner, Motivator, one of several big-hitters queueing up to blow out the hurricane.
Ballydoyle and Godolphin are represented respectively by the St Leger winner, Scorpion, and last year's runner-up, Cherry Mix, while last season's winner, Jonathan Pease's Bago, is another lurking for the domestic defence.
The prospect of Arc participation from another used to success in the race grew yesterday when Mick Kinane announced he was about to make a return to competitive action aboard Donna Blini in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket tomorrow. Kinane, an Arc winner on Carroll House (1989) and Montjeu (1999), is nearing full fitness after fracturing his wrist in two places in a fall at the Curragh over five weeks ago.
The Irish rider had a plaster cast removed from his right arm last week and is relishing the prospect of a return to the saddle tomorrow aboard Brian Meehan's progressive filly, who is set to take on leading 1,000 Guineas fancy Flashy Wings in the Group One contest.
"The arm's fine and I'm very happy with the way things have gone," Kinane said. "I'll be taking the ride on Donna Blini and looking forward to it." Although his old confederate Azamour misses the race, Kinane's timely recovery means the 46-year-old could also come in for a spare ride on Sunday. "I don't want to get too carried away in case something goes wrong with the arm," he said, "but my agent's on the case for the Arc."
Attractionforced to retire by lameness
A slight injury has forced the retirement of Attraction, the brilliant filly who won 10 of her 15 starts, including five Group Ones and almost £900,000 worth of win and place prize money.
Yorkshire-based trainer Mark Johnston had been preparing the four-year-old for a tilt at the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, but she will now be retired to owner Duke Of Roxburghe's stud.
"I'm afraid she is definitely not going to run on Saturday and that's going to be it," said the Duke.
"That is the end of her career I'm afraid. Obviously it's very sad but in some ways maybe I'm rather relieved. It's a little problem, a slight lameness behind, but we had not really been able to get to the bottom of it and to find what it is and why."
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