Fast Arcano promises return on investment

Brilliant run at Deauville makes high-priced colt the favourite for 2,000 Guineas
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The Independent Online

As an investment opportunity, Sheikh Hamdan's purchase of the two-year-old Arcano three weeks ago would have the dragons salaaming in their den.

After the Maktoum brother and his headhunters saw the promising Brian Meehan-trained colt maintain an unbeaten record at Newmarket, they were in. And the reward for their judgement is that the newest bearer of the blue and white silks is now favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas.

Yesterday at Deauville, Arcano won the Prix Morny, the Group One finale to the Normandy seaside season, and in the process burst the bubble that had floated around Canford Cliffs since Royal Ascot. There was not much between them at the end – Arcano took the prize by a short neck from Special Duty, with Canford Cliffs a neck third – but the victory was decisively fair and square.

Ridden for the first time in public by Richard Hills, Arcano was last of the five runners for five of the six furlongs, but once asked for maximum effort the 9-2 shot responded with a will and cut down trailblazing Special Duty with a strong, determined late thrust. "I'd only sat on him once before, in a piece of work at home," said the rider. "In the race, he still felt a bit green early. He was caught a bit flat-footed when the pace quickened, but he stayed on really well and his attitude in the finish was terrific. He's a great addition to the team."

Whatever the Sheikh paid for Arcano, a son of Europe's most exciting young sire Oasis Dream, it will be considerably more than the 90,000 guineas he cost his former owners, a syndicate including members of the Sangster family, as a yearling.

Even before he beat Showcasing, impressive winner of last week's Gimcrack Stakes on his debut, Meehan realised that he had a talent out of the ordinary on his hands and yesterday the Manton-based handler emphasised that the youngster's best days are ahead, particularly when he tackles longer distances.

"He's still a great baby, with masses of improvement to come," he said. "All options are now open but he does want to go further than six furlongs now. He's absolutely entitled to be Guineas favourite at this stage and his getting a mile next year will not be an issue. And I'm very pleased that we've done the job for the yard's new owner."

It was the end of a good week for Meehan, whose charge Lady Of The Desert has been prominent in the 1,000 Guineas betting since winning the Lowther Stakes at York on Thursday. Arcano is now as short as 8-1 for the colt's Rowley Mile showpiece next May, with the Ballydoyle inmate Alfred Nobel, winner of last month's Phoenix Stakes, and Canford Cliffs, from the Richard Hannon yard, his nearest market challengers.

It falls to few to become either champions or wonder horses and, although Canford Cliffs' six-length tour de force in the Coventry Stakes looked worthy of a certain Usain, he had shot his bolt yesterday before the race was half-over. Under strong pressure from Richard Hughes the 4-5 favourite drifted to the stand rails and although his undoubted above-average ability took him to the front rank going into the final furlong, there was no trademark lightning change of gear on this occasion.

"He had every chance," said trainer's son and assistant Richard, "and I can't really use his huge Ascot run as an excuse as he's had 10 weeks to get over it. Today has been disappointing."

Special Duty, the best of the locals, will now head for the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket after her excellent effort against two high-class colts. "That was perhaps the best two-year-old race of the season," said her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek.

Arcano was Meehan's second winner of the Morny, after Bad As I Wanna Be nine years ago, a race that has a patchy record in signposting Classic talent. Since Zafonic won in 1992, the only Newmarket Guineas winner to emerge from its ranks has been the filly Natagora, second at Deauville three years ago.

Earlier in the afternoon at Deauville, a possible Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe candidate emerged for the Godolphin team when the imposing Schiaparelli outclassed his rivals by 10 lengths to take the Prix Kergorlay. The six-year-old, winner of the Goodwood Cup on his previous run, is perceived as a stayer these days, but did win three 12-furlong Group Ones last term before his transfer to the blues and now has the traditional older-horse Arc trial, the Prix Foy, pencilled in.

His rider Frankie Dettori notched a Group-race double in the Prix Nonette on John Gosden-trained Charity Belle, previously seen as runner-up in a Ffos Las handicap, and was narrowly denied a treble in the day's other Group One contest when Godolphin's Lady Marian was touched off by a short head by Alpine Rose.

Turf account: Sue Montgomery


Bawadi (4.40 Kempton) Produced a satisfactory performance when winning an ordinary race on his belated debut and can be expected to improve from the experience and the step up in trip.

*Next best

Serious Impact (4.30 Windsor) Has more potential than most of these and should pick up his career despite top weight and a four-month absence.

*One to watch

Axiom (Luca Cumani) was fourth in a blanket finish at tricky Chester on Saturday and should prove even more competitive over further and on easier ground, for instance in a race like the Cambridgeshire.

*Chris McGrath's Nap

Cherry Bee (4.00 Windsor)