When a man who has won Europe's top middle-distance contest a record seven times starts to make plans for the race, notice should be taken. André Fabre yesterday nominated the three-time Group 1 winner Meandre as his top candidate for this year's Arc, with a well-trodden route to Longchamp on 7 October mapped out.
All Fabre's previous Arc heroes – Rail Link six years ago, Hurricane Run (2005), Sagamix (1998), Peintre Celebre (1997), Carnegie (1994), Subotica (1992) and Trempolino (1987) – used the Paris track's trials day as a warm-up. The six three-year-olds ran in the Prix Niel; as a four-year-old Meandre will follow Subotica to the race for his age-group, the Prix Foy. The grey, owned and bred by the Rothschild family, was a staying-on sixth in last year's Arc, the first three-year-old colt to finish. None of the five in front of him – Danedream, Shareta, Snow Fairy, So You Think and St Nicholas Abbey – has since devalued that performance.
Meandre took last year's Grand Prix de Paris and has progressed to win the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June, and last month's Grosser Preis von Berlin.
Fabre said: "It will be the Foy, then hopefully back to Longchamp for the Arc. I always thought he would make a very nice four-year-old and his form is very solid."
Meandre is as short as 12-1 for the Arc, vying for fourth favouritism (ignoring unlikely runner Frankel) behind Camelot, Danedream and his fellow-colour bearer Nathaniel.
Grand National-winning jockey Graham Lee notched a half-century in his first season after reinventing himself on the Flat when he scored on Voodoo Prince at Ripon yesterday.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Albaqaa (8.20 Kempton) Has been keeping smarter company than this for most of the year and run at Goodwood last time was better than his finishing position might suggest.
Cat O'Mountain (6.20 Kempton) Has a classy staying pedigree – a half-brother to Michita (Ribblesdale) and Willing Foe (Ebor) – and will in due course go on to better things himself.
One to watch
After winning at York last week Gordon Lord Byron (Tom Hogan) can continue to progress up the sprint ladder.
Where the money's going
Guarantee has been cut from 20-1 to 14-1 for the St Leger by Paddy Power.