Weight of history on Authorized but Frankie can pull off classic triumph

Backroom boys such as 'test driver' Adrian McCarthy can help Dettori land Europe's greatest middle-distance prize. By Sue Montgomery

Should Authorized win the 86th Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe today, Frankie Dettori and Peter Chapple-Hyam will enthusiastically, but graciously, receive the plaudits that are their due. And, because behind every superb individual performance on the racecourse lies a team effort, both will rightly deflect praise to the backroom boys. To men like Alex Cairns, head lad at Chapple-Hyam's St Gatien stables in Newmarket; like Noel O'Connor, Authorized's devoted personal valet; like "roadie" Ronan Meehan, who oversees the travelling and has been in France since Thursday.

And like Adrian McCarthy, who has done the fine-tuning for Dettori. At home, O'Connor rides Authorized at exercise, the routine daily leg-stretch; McCarthy is in the saddle on work mornings, when the serious business gets done, when pressure is applied, when the horse gets to learn about racing and the trainer gets to learn about the horse. In Formula One terms, McCarthy is the test driver. And no flying dismounts.

A good work-rider, who knows what he is feeling and can give intelligent feedback, is essential to any trainer. Last season, when Authorized was no more than a highly promising juvenile, O'Connor did the job. This year, as a genuine Classic contender, the more experienced McCarthy took over the responsibility of the putative star's education and has felt the colt grow and develop under him, month by month, physically and mentally.

"Noel told me he was a good one," he said, "but to start with he didn't give me the impression that he'd be outstanding. He'd always work the same, he'd go past his lead horse easily but then feel he'd done enough, and not do much more. He was babyish, lazy, a bit dumb. Yes, as time went on he got better, but even before the Derby he was a bit like that. Immature. So it just shows how good he is to have won the Derby like he did."

Authorized romped home by five lengths at Epsom, experienced his first three-year-old reverse at the hands of the cannily ridden Notnowcato in the Eclipse Stakes, and bounced back with an authoritative defeat of top-class Dylan Thomas in the York International. With every race, he has become more streetwise, and more aware of his capabilities and status.

"Horses start to know that they're good," said McCarthy. "It's a confidence thing. He used to be quiet in his box when I'd saddle him up. Now he's there waiting at the door, and he tries to eat you. He's grown up; he understands life a bit more, he's fitter, he's developed muscles and grown into his big frame. He's not a boy any more, he's a man."

Authorized has inherited the imposing physique of his sire, Montjeu, and much of his talent but, happily, none of his quirks. "Like a lot of Montjeus he goes along with his head up, and you've got plenty of horse in front of you," said McCarthy. "Even at the walk, you can feel his massive stride, almost pulling you along. But he's straightforward. You ask him to do something, he'll do it, no arguments."

It is in the past month that McCarthy has felt the most marked change in the powerful bay. "One morning on the Limekilns," he said, "he started really tugging at me, so much so that I had to let him go sooner than I'd wanted. And then last Tuesday, in his last bit of work, what he gave me was the best he's ever given me.

"I pulled him out from behind his lead horse and he went six lengths clear and kept going. I didn't have to change my hands and get hold of him, just gave him a squeeze. He has such a high cruising speed and when he quickens he does it by lengthening. You can feel it, he seems to get longer and lower and suddenly you're going faster."

Catterick-born McCarthy, 28, travelled the world with his army family – he learned to ride in Germany – before finding a base in Newmarket, a graduate of the racing school there. He is not just a work-rider; he is a jockey, with nine winners to his credit this year, though most of his rides tend to be lowly beasts making up the numbers.

"Not many riders, champion jockeys or not, will know what it feels like to ride one as good as Authorized, and I don't suppose I'll be lucky enough to again," he said. "But to sit on one like him in the morning simply makes your day."

As well as Dettori, Authorized will carry the weight of history this afternoon. Of the 19 Derby winners to have contested the Arc as three-year-olds before today, only Sea-Bird, Mill Reef, Lammtarra and Sinndar have succeeded. Six others – Santa Claus, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Troy, Shahrastani and High Chaparral – have finished in the money. Most, as Authorized will do, have started favourite.

Chapple-Hyam's previous Epsom hero, Dr Devious, finished sixth but this one is a much better horse. And perhaps the race owes the trainer one. Of his other runners, White Muzzle was unlucky twice, and Polaris Flight was fatally injured. Authorized can redress the balance to give Dettori Europe's greatest middle-distance prize for a fourth time.

Today's 12-strong line-up – four from France, four from Ireland, three from Britain and one from Germany – is one of the smallest in the modern era. The four Irish raiders are all from one yard, that of Aidan O'Brien. His challenge is led by the two Irish Derby winners, this year's victor Soldier Of Fortune and four-year-old Dylan Thomas, trying for the first King George-Arc double since Lammtarra 12 years ago.

As far as the betting indicates, the home side's defence will be led by Zambezi Sun. The only filly in the field is Mandesha and although the Arc has been won 16 times by a female, the last to do so was Urban Sea 14 years ago. But since then several of the sisterhood have knocked on the door, and course-and-distance winner Mandesha makes each-way appeal.

Derby winners in the Arc

First: Relko, 1963

After winning the Derby by six lengths, and controversially keeping it after failing a dope test, Relko started 9-10 favourite for the first tape-started Arc. Sadly, he was greeted by jeers as he finished in only sixth place.

Best: Sea-Bird, 1965

Probably the best horse ever to race in Europe and one of the few to win a Derby on the bridle, the 12-10 favourite produced a devastating solo tour de force to win his Arc.

Shock: Nijinsky 1970

At 4-10, Nijinsky was not the hottest losing Arc favourite – that was 1-10 shot Ardan in 1945 – but his head defeat by Sassafras, the first of his career, is the upset that sticks in the mind.

Unique: Mill Reef 1971

Mill Reef became the first, and still only, horse to complete the great middle-distance four-timer of the Derby, Eclipse Stakes, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Arc. At Longchamp he justified his 7-10 starting price with a scintillating three-length win.

Watch the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe on BBC2 at 3.40pm. Full coverage starts at 12.30pm

A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn