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.

Maureen set to tackle York’s Lowther Stakes

Horse racing betting news and previews reckon Richard Hannon’s smart juvenile Maureen is set for another high profile victory when she heads to the eagerly anticipated York Ebor Festival later this month to bid for the Group 2 Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes.

The 20,000 guineas yearling purchase has certainly proved herself to have been well bought, winning easily on her racecourse bow at Newbury in May where she accounted for Anecdote by an untroubled two-and-a-half lengths to justify 11/10 favouritism, word having reached the racecourse ahead of her first outing that she had shown plenty of ability on the gallops at home.

Immediately stepped up to Group 2 company, Maureen was considered an unlucky loser when failing by just a neck to catch Sendmylovetorose in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting, missing the break before coming from way back to only just fail to land the spoils in unsuitably testing ground after finishing with a flourish.

Just two weeks after that gruelling effort the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor headed to Ascot for the Group 3 Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes), for which she was sent off a well supported 5/6 favourite), and after jumping off on terms with her rivals was always travelling best under Richard Hughes as she strode out well to account for Sandreamer by just over two lengths.

Connections immediately insisted that despite her diminutive stature Maureen is one of the very best two-years-olds seen out so far this season and have readily spoken of bidding to follow up in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York, after which (if all goes well on the Knavesmire), the Ahmad Alkhallifi-owned filly could bid for Group 1 glory at Newmarket in October in the coveted Cheveley Park Stakes.

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Takar Emerges as Classic Contender

John Oxx looks to have a genuine contender for honours in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh, later this month, following the smooth victory of his Takar at the home of Irish racing, on Sunday, in the listed Dylan Thomas European Breeders Fund Tetrarch Stakes, writes Elliot Slater.

Less than 24 hours after the yard’s Born To Sea had failed to shine at Newmarket in the Qipco 2000 Guineas, when well-fancied in many quarters, Takar restored confidence amongst the Oxx team by putting up a professional display in the seven-furlong contest.

The win helped justify 5/4 favouritism, in beating Coolnagree by a length-and-a-quarter, with Ballydoyle’s Triumphant a neck back in third. Get great odds on horse racing on Bet Victor.

The winning margin does not do justice to the measure of superiority the Aga Khan’s colt held over his rivals, having quickened from off the pace to surge into the lead under Johnny Murtagh, before being nudged out to easily maintain his advantage.

The son of Oratorio was setting foot on a racecourse for just his third career outing, and his first of the 2012 campaign, having run with plenty of promise, when fourth to Call to Battle in a Curragh maiden, last October.

He got off the mark at only the second time of asking, when slamming Place Vendome by an impressive eight-lengths at Leopardstown, a month later, right at the end of the Irish turf season.

Oxx expressed himself very pleased with the way his three-year-old went about his business, on Sunday, and had little hesitation in nominating a crack at the Irish 2000 Guineas, on May 26, as the next target for Takar, who comes from a long established bloodline, supported by the Aga Khan, over many decades.

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Horse Set Out On Trail To Grand National Glory

The Grand National is arguably the most
famous Steeple Chase in the World, run in April each year at Aintree Racecourse
in Liverpool, the Grand National attracts interest from all corners of the
globe and whilst most interest in the race tends to be on the day and days
before the off, connections who have their sights set on their horse running in
the race are already making preparations.

It is usually this time of year that
National Hunt trainers begin to get serious about the prospects of their Grand
National entries
. It is also the time when the Bookmakers begin to
establish the odds for the race which this season, will take place on the 9th
April.

There have already been a number of races
that are usually considered to be “Grand National Trials”, races such
as the Hennessy Gold Cup, the Becher Chase and the December Gold Cup then of
course there is the upcoming Welsh National at Christmas to take into account.

Currently there are five sharing the
honours at the top of the Grand National antepost market with odds of 16/1,
these include winner of the 2011
Grand National
, Ballabriggs, from the yard of Donald McCain. The ten year
old has yet to be seen out so far this season, but the way the McCain yard has
been firing in the UK this season, it stands to reason that he would not be
under any Bookmakers radar.

Ballabriggs in fact did not get going last
season until January, when he won two handicap hurdle races and only had one
spin over the bigger obstacles at Ayr in March before heading for Aintree. It
is understood that McCain will give him a similar route the race this season,
but as far as stable reports are concerned it is all systems go.

Tim Vaughan is another young trainer, like
McCain, who is making a name for himself as a potential top NH trainer. He hit
the jackpot last season with his Beshabar who won the Scottish Grand National
after a titanic tussle with the local Scottish trained entry, Merigo, who had
won the race 12 months earlier. Beshabar is only a second season chaser and
acquitted himself very well when fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup behind
Carruthers last month at Newbury.

Alan King’s West End Rocker made the
Bookmakers look up when winning the Becher Chase over 3m2f by 22 lengths on 3rd
December at Aintree. It was a huge improvement from when he was pulled up in
November in the Rewards4Racing Handicap Chase at Cheltenham three weeks
earlier. In fact he has won his last three starts when he has completed the
race, but in between, in addition to being pulled up in November, he was
brought down in the Grand National last season and before that he was pulled up
in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park.

The Fulke Walwyn/Kim Muir Cup winner at the
Cheltenham Festival in March, Junior, is being lined up by the David Pipe
stable for a tilt at the ‘National’ and on the outstanding form he showed when
winning at the Festival in March he would be a very decent contender. Pipe of
course trained the winner in 2008, Comply Or Die and has had a great record
over the years in big handicap chases.

Owner Robert Waley-Cohen and his amateur
jockey son, Sam almost pulled off a unique treble last season, by winning the
King George Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Long Run and then came so
agonisingly close with Oscar Time to winning the ‘National’. The ten year old
who is trained in Ireland by Martin Lynch gave Ballabriggs a hugely gallant
chase to the line at Aintree last season but had to be content with second
place, finishing just over two lengths adrift. He began his preparation for the
Grand National this season by finishing fourth of five in a 2m7f hurdle at
Thurles three weeks ago where he finished fourth of five behind the very useful
Zaidpour. He will probably take on a similar race again over the next few weeks
before a final preparation over fences before Aintree.

Richard Smith