Racing: Reid in the White hot seat: Chapple-Hyam's choice for his fallen Arc hope is in an unenviable position, aiming to win where Japan's champion Take failed

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The Independent Online
IF YUTAKA TAKE was always on a loser in the glare of a critical audience at Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the pressure now is hardly less intense on the man who is to replace him as White Muzzle's rider, John Reid.

Following the Arc favourite's unpredicted performance, finishing wide and late into sixth, and a very public dressing down for Take from White Muzzle's trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, the overpowering suggestion was that White Muzzle would have won with another rider.

This puts Reid, who will now pull on Teruya Yoshida's colours again in the Rothmans International at Woodbine, Toronto, later this month, in an impossible position. He is expected to show he is better than Take, and that means he is expected to win.

The Ulsterman, second on White Muzzle in the Arc 12 months ago, did not heave himself aboard the overloaded bandwagon that chased the Japanese champion's reputation out of town on Sunday. 'Longchamp is a unique track and it took me a few rides to learn how to ride round here,' he said. 'It's notoriously difficult and I wouldn't criticise any jockey round here because it's so hard.'

While Yoshida has bowed to Chapple-Hyam's insistence on both running the horse in Canada, and with a different man at the controls, he has certainly not lost faith in Take. In addition, if White Muzzle is defeated in North America, the Japanese camp will be interested to hear the Manton trainer's excuses.

'Sunday was the old story,' Patrick Barbe, the racing manager to Yoshida, said yesterday. 'The English are very quick to take someone to the pinnacle, and then put them down afterwards.

'We'll see what happens with White Muzzle next time, but, remember, John Reid didn't win the Arc the previous year, either.'

While Team Yoshida concedes that Take's rough edges were exhibited at the weekend, they do not believe he was either totally culpable or deserving of the ban he collected later in the day for his ride on Erin Bird.

'It might not have been a problem with the jockey, it might have been a problem with the horse,' Barbe said of the Arc. 'Yutaka said he wanted to be closer to the pace, he knew the position was not good, but he could not get there.

'The whole thing is not a great problem with him now, but he knows there will be better days. He's a young guy and, of course, he needs experience in this sort of race, but he'll make it.'

If Take would like a shield to fend off the brickbats, he may care to consider the form earlier this year of one of Sunday's winners, Lochsong. When the mare bolted to post at Newmarket in July, Willie Carson, her jockey, was castigated for his part; six weeks later the mare turned in an identical performance at York for a different rider, Lanfranco Dettori.

White Muzzle, for all his consistency, has become a difficult horse to win with, succeeding in just one of his last eight races. Despite the suggestion that his jockey's assistance on Sunday had all the value of having a leg sawn off, there are grounds to believe he was only 2lb below his peak.

At the line, Intrepidity was further behind White Muzzle than she had been the previous year (when they were fourth and second respectively), while the colt again finished in front of Only Royale.

White Muzzle was rated 127 in the International Classifications after last season's Arc, and Anthony Arkwright, who will classify the British horses from the weekend, believes he has not gone back much from that. 'He would only be about 2lb below his best racing,' the British Horseracing Board handicapper said.

'These things have to be discussed, but if you use Ezzoud and Only Royale as the anchor horses you could make White Muzzle 125 and the winner (Carnegie) about a 129 and a decent Arc winner. Not up there amongst the stars, but a middling sort of winner.'

Carnegie was, however, good enough to hold off the Britons in a race that hardly bodes well for their hopes at the Breeders' Cup series at Churchill Downs in a month's time. By that time we should know how much Take was to blame on Sunday.

(Photograph omitted)