Fillies favoured in thrilling Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Last year’s Group 1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe saw the fairer sex fill the first three places for the first time in a very long time in Europe’s premier middle-distance contest. Germany’s Danedream stormed home from France’s Shareta and British star Snow Fairy, and the likelihood seems to be that one of this trio of tremendous performers will once again grace the winners enclosure at Longchamp on October 7.

Danedream is currently a 9/2 joint-favourite in the ante-post list with several horse racing odds setters, for the race with the Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfevre, and has looked every bit as good this season as last, nosing out the gallant Nathaniel in a thrilling renewal of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July, before coasting home in Group 1 company on home turf at Baden Baden to complete a perfect Arc preparation. Her trainer, Peter Schiergen, is very bullish that his star will win again on what will be her final racecourse appearance.

Shareta (10/1), beaten five lengths into second place in last year’s showcase contest when an unconsidered 66/1 shot, has proved that run no fluke by winning her last two starts in great style. She beat The Fugue in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire last month, then easily accounting for classy rivals when landing Sunday’s Group 1 Prix Vermeille over the Arc course and distance. Her trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre, is convinced she is now a much better filly than last season.

Snow Fairy (7/1) needs no introduction, the darling of Newmarket trainer Ed Dunlop’s string having recovered from a near career-ending tendon injury to bounce back to her brilliant best with a win in Group 1 company in France last month followed by her great success over the unfortunate Nathaniel in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown earlier this month. A victory for the bargain basement mare would be hugely popular and she is reported in great shape ahead of her repeat assault on the French prize.

With three such talented performers, several horse racing news experts believe that the colts may once again have to look to their laurels next month and may be playing for places at very best.

Hawk eyeing famous Ayr Gold Cup success

Could there possibly be a more appropriately named winner of Saturday’s eagerly awaited William Hill Ayr Gold Cup than the Jim Goldie-trained Hawkeyethenoo, the Scottish-trained runner who currently heads the ante-post market for the six furlong cavalry charge at a top price of 12/1?

The son of the enigmatic Hawk Wing has long been one of a number of tough-as-teak standard bearers for the Goldie yard, and having landed last year’s Victoria Cup over seven furlongs at Ascot has continued on the upgrade this term with a series of fine efforts, highlighted by his famous success at Glorious Goodwood in August when horse racing news networks and fans saw the six-year-old came with a beautifully judged run to get up in the final strides and beat the unfortunate Imperial Guest by a nose to land the coveted Stewards’ Cup.

Having gone close at Royal Ascot six weeks earlier when a fine third to Dandy Boy in the Wokingham Handicap, it was no surprise to see Goldie having a crack at pattern race company with his in-form gelding and Hawkeyethenoo didn’t let the side down when overcoming unsuitably soft ground to run a highly creditable fifth to Mayson in the Group 1 Darley July Cup.

Goldie is one of the most popular trainers in the game, always found with a smile on his face, win, lose or draw, and a regular feature in horse racing odds and markers, and often referred to as ‘Jolly Jim’ by his many fans. The Ayr Gold Cup has long been close to the top of the East Renfrewshire-based trainer’s wish list and in Hawkeyethenoo he has a horse who oozes class and is likely to give a very good account of himself, even with the steadier of at least 9st 8lbs.

A win in the race would also cap an outstanding first season on the level for former top jumps jockey Graham Lee, already well past the 50 mark for the term and already established as one of the best Flat riders in the business.

Chacha Quicksteps to Group 1 Victory in Stewards’ Room

Sir Henry Cecil received something of a tonic, as he battles serious illness when seeing his talented mare, Chachamaidee, gain her first Group 1 success with the help of the Leopardstown stewards, after crossing the winning line a short-head behind Duntle in a thrilling finish to the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes on Saturday evening, writes Elliot Slater.

The five-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand had been briefly knocked off her stride well inside the final furlong, as Duntle edged to her right and caused a cannon effect that eventually pushed Chachamaidee a shade wider than had been intended.

The stewards decided that that loss of momentum, coupled with the fact that she was in front no more than two strides after the line, had probably cost Cecil’s mare the race and duly reversed the placings, much to the shock of many punters who had bet long odds-on in the photo that Duntle would keep the race.

The development has been a staple story in the horse racing news since it happened, standing as a warning to gamblers betting on the favourite.

Whilst David Wachman and the connections of the demoted ‘first past the post’ were understandably upset by the decision, few could deny that Chachamaidee has deserved a top grade success for some time, having strung together a series of fine performances in recent seasons.

She achieved a length second to French star, Sahpresa, in last season’s Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket, a contest for which she may again bid for top honours back at HQ on September 29.

The winner of the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this summer, having failed by just a neck to peg back Joviality, after losing five lengths at the start of the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Chachamaidee’s only disappointing effort had been last time out.

She came fourth of the five runners to Premio Loco in a muddling renewal of the celebration Mile but she well and truly bounced back to form in Ireland to justify the horse racing betting odds.

Leopardstown track record for superb Snow Fairy

The Ed Dunlop-trained Snow Fairy put up probably the best performance of her outstanding career when getting the better of the high-class pair of Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey to land a thrilling Group 1 Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday and break the track record in the process, writes Elliot Slater.

With Frankie Dettori deputising for the great mare’s regular rider Ryan Moore (still sidelined with a broken ankle), the five-year-old was never far from the pace set by Aidan O’Brien’s Daddy Long Legs. William Buick on Nathaniel took the lead over two furlongs out and made the long run for home, but Snow Fairy was clearly travelling better and once Dettori asked the daughter of Intikhab for her final effort the response was electrifying as she sped by the Coral Eclipse Stakes winner to win comfortably. Nathaniel held on well to resist a late flourish from Coronation Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey, who was well fancied among horse racing tips before the race, but clearly needs further than this 10 furlongs to be seen at his best.

Dunlop was left nearly speechless as his stable star brought the house down at the Irish track, the Newmarket handler reflecting that her career had been all but over when she suffered a serious tendon injury while preparing for another big run in Hong Kong last winter. Already back on the wining trail after scoring in Group 1 company at Deauville three weeks earlier, Snow Fairy is now expected to try and improve on her third place behind Danedream in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and was slashed to a general offer of 8/1 to add the Paris spectacular to her already stunning international resume.

Both John Gosden’s Nathaniel and Aidan O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey ran fine races in defeat and could well re-oppose Snow Fairy at Longchamp. For more odds and opinion on that race then don’t forget to check out the Bet Victor horse racing news site.