Al Kazeem is set to ensure there is a credible British challenge in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on 6 October after connections, unfazed by an impressive set of trials at the Paris course over the weekend, today decided to travel to France rather than wait for the Champion Stakes at Ascot 13 days later.
The five-year-old's trainer Roger Charlton tweeted: "Exciting and great news – Al Kazeem is being aimed at the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and he will be ridden by James Doyle." The jockey has formed a successful partnership with the horse, winning three Group One races this summer culminating in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, although repeated racing on fast ground eroded his dominance in subsequent defeats at York and at Leopardstown. Doyle was recently appointed retained jockey to Khalid Abdullah but has a dispensation to partner Al Kazeem for the rest of the year.
The likelihood of give in the ground at Longchamp influenced the decision to run in the Arc. Al Kazeem's owner, John Deer, said: "Ascot came into it, but I suppose the main thing was the ground at Longchamp – it seems it will be good to soft. That is obviously very important for him.
"He has come out of Leopardstown fine and there are no problems at all. The gallops he works on have been good to soft, so he's been able to work at home without any hold-ups. The only question is, 'Has he had too much racing?' We don't think so, especially as the ground will suit him."
Al Kazeem apart, the only British possible prominent in the Arc betting is The Fugue, a length and a quarter superior to him in the Irish Champion Stakes, but John Gosden's filly would be unlikely to run on testing going at Longchamp.
In contrast, the British challenge is set to be as mob-handed as ever for the Melbourne Cup, for which the weights were published today, headed by the last two winners, Green Moon and Dunaden. Luca Cumani's Mount Athos, fifth last year, again has 8st 7lb. "That's fine, I'm happy with that," the trainer said.