A plum ride in Europe's richest race is a powerful motivator and it has certainly done the trick for Ryan Moore. The jockey has been sidelined by injury since an horrific fall at Goodwood in late July but will keep his date with Workforce in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday with two days to spare. Moore, who broke his right humerus and thumb in the accident at the Glorious meeting, has satisfied his own and British Horseracing Authority doctors that his recovery is complete and will return to the saddle on Friday, when he will ride handicappers Tuscania and Kinyras at Ascot for his boss Sir Michael Stoute.
The three-times champion has been riding out regularly on the Newmarket gallops for the past two weeks and partnered Stoute-trained Workforce, last year's Arc winner, in a racecourse spin at Sandown a week ago.
But although his dedication and determination have won Moore his race against time, Workforce's quest to become the first horse to win back-to-back Arcs since Alleged in 1978 may be compromised by the prevailing fine weather and drying conditions in Paris. The four-year-old has won on all types of ground but is perceived as being best-suited by ease underfoot and was one of a number of his ilk eased yesterday in the big-race betting.
His shift, though, from 5-1 to 11-2 in some lists, was minor compared with that of John Gosden-trained Nathaniel and local hope Reliable Man, from the stable of Alain de Royer-Dupre, both of whose trainers are prepared to withdraw their charges if the ground is too fast. Nathaniel, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on good-to-soft ground in July, was alongside Workforce at 5-1 third favourite yesterday morning and 8-1 by close of play.
Conversely, the punters are latching on to fast-ground specialists So You Think (now clear second favourite at 9-2) and, in particular, Ed Dunlop-trained Snow Fairy. The weekend gamble on the four-year-old filly, who would give Frankie Dettori his 24th consecutive ride in the Arc, showed no sign of abating yesterday. Ladbrokes, for instance, have cut her from 25-1 to 16-1.
Last year's dual Oaks heroine has yet to win this year but pushed So You Think, the pride of Ballydoyle, to half a length at Leopardstown earlier this month and a decision on her participation will be made tomorrow. Should Nathaniel, Reliable Man et al miss the Arc, the Champion Stakes at Ascot's inaugural self-styled Champions Day two weekends later could be the beneficiary. But the restructuring of the domestic autumn calendar to accommodate the new meeting has left Saturday at Newmarket, historically a tasty bonne bouche before the feast in France on Sunday, woefully bland.
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Mistress Of Rome (2.40 Ayr)
Well-bred filly who caught a tartar over course and distance last time. Further will suit in time, but should be capable of compensation in a weak contest.
* Next best
Manger Hanagement (3.20 Sedgefield)
Has won his last four races, over fences and hurdles, by an aggregate 77 lengths and though rocketing up the ratings turns out on the same mark as his victory five days ago.
* One to watch
Kid Suitor (Richard Hannon), fourth at Newmarket on Thursday, is by no means yet the finished article but looks certain to continue to progress, especially back on easier ground.
* Where the money's going
Nicky Henderson, who failed last season by just £213,594 to prevent Paul Nicholls taking a sixth jump trainers' title, has been installed 5-6 favourite by Paddy Power to halt his rival's hegemony this season.