Andreas Wöhler plots perfect Arc ending with Novellist


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The Independent Online

A field of 21 stood their ground at the first forfeit stage for the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, with the Prix Vermeille winner Treve and St Leger victor Leading Light expected to be supplemented for the Group One Longchamp prize tomorrow. But the elements are still likely to play a role in determining the line-up for Sunday's contest.

The going was given as good to soft, with a predominantly dry weather forecast in the run-up to the weekend, when heavy rain and thunder are a distinct possibility. Testing ground would threaten the participation of André Fabre's Grand Prix de Paris winner Flintshire and John Gosden's filly The Fugue.

The German trainer Andreas Wöhler gave an upbeat assessment of his King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Novellist, who was only workmanlike in taking the Grosser Preis von Baden last month. "The horse is very well and he did his last piece of work [on Monday]," Wöhler said. "Everything has gone smooth and fine since his last race. He's a different type of horse since Baden-Baden. It was a Group One race but we treated it as a prep race."

Johnny Murtagh, unable to ride Novellist then under German rules which prevent trainers from taking mounts, will be back aboard the four-year-old, on whom he scored by five lengths in the King George, at Longchamp. Murtagh landed a major gamble aboard Educate in the Cambridgeshire last Saturday.

Sandown has announced that next year's bet365 Gold Cup day on 26 April will now be an all-jumps fixture in an effort give clearer definition to the end of the season – a four-day break will ensue before the 2014-15 jumps campaign starts. But with the meeting's Flat races now segregated on the Friday, the plan means the passing of the last high-profile mixed fixture in Britain.