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News from Europe

Orfevre the market leader as Danedream and Nathaniel withdraw

Post positions for the Arc will be drawn on Friday

By Tom Krish

She was a five-length winner of the Arc de Triomphe in 2011. In the King George at Ascot in late July, she got the better of the John Gosden-trained Nathaniel in a finish that had the grand-standers on the edges of their seats. Danedream, conditioned by Peter Schiergen, was on course to defend her Arc title this year. The best plans go awry. News has come from Cologne where Danedream is based that the German mare will be scratched from the Arc.

Cologne in Germany has not been in operation for close to twelve weeks because a horse tested positive for a blood infection. There is a quarantine. No horse is permitted to come in or go out. Danedream cannot leave. It is indeed a strange situation.

Julien Pescatore, Chief of Media Relations at France-Galop, the administrative body for French racing, said, “It is unfortunate. There is nothing we can do about it.”

There was another high profile withdrawal from Sunday’s big race. Nathaniel’s blood test was not satisfactory. The 2011 English St Leger hero had a fever. Nathaniel’s absence frees jockey William Buick to seek other mounts in the Arc.

The major betting outfits have made jockey Buick the 2/1 favorite to be aboard Camelot. The Aidan O’Brien pupil, who failed in his Triple Crown bid in the St Leger at Doncaster, now is a strong possibility to line up on Sunday. Seventeen contestants stood their ground at Tuesday’s cutoff point.

All these developments paved the way for Orfevre, the Japanese superstar, to be elevated to the head of the market. A Christophe Soumillon mount, Orfevre comes off a resolute win in the Prix Foy, one of the major Arc preps run in mid-September at Longchamp. Now a 5/2 chance to land the first Arc for Japan, Orfevre, a four year-old colt by Stay Gold out of Oriental Art by Mejiro McQueen, is trained by Yashutoshi Ikee. Exuding optimism about his student’s chances, Ikee stated, “He’s in better shape for the Arc than he was for the Foy. Soumillon told me that the Foy was the perfect trial. Orfevre got used to Longchamp. Before big crowds in Japan, we can use hoods. In France, because of the rules, we are exposed to the noise. Ear plugs cannot be put on but my confidence level is high.”

Orfevre, before winning the Foy, was triumphant in The Group I Takarazuba Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse on June 24. The one aberration came on April 29 in the Grade I Tenno Sho (two miles on firm grass) when Orfevre, a 3/10 chance, finished 11th of 18 runners. Given his current form, the Tenno Sho failure is a distant memory.

I remember Deep Impact in the 2005 Arc. There was a huge contingent from Japan and Deep Impact, though a 3/1 chance with the British bookmakers until two days before the Arc, was an odds on proposition in the French tote at race time. Deep Impact took third behind Rail Link and Youmzain. Later, the prize money was forfeited because of a drug violation. In 2010, Nakayama Fiesta forced Workforce to a photo.

Camelot, the top three year-old in Europe and the winner of the English 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, is Aidan O’Brien’s key hope. Three year-olds have enviable records in the Arc in recent years.

Second to Danedream in last year’s Arc, Shareta, the pride of the Aga Khan stable trained by Alain de-Royer Dupre, is working forwardly. The daughter of Sinndar, to be ridden by Christophe Lemaire, was an easy winner in the Prix Vermeille, a significant Arc prep. On August 23, Shareta won the 12-furlong Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York.

Sinndar, Shareta’s sire, was the pre-eminent sophomore in 2000. John Murtagh rode the John Oxx-trained colt. Sinndar won the Epsom Derby. Went to the Curragh to score in the Irish Derby. Prix Niel came next in Sinndar’s victory march. The Arc was the final win for Sinndar and the Grand Lodge colt was retired. The Aga Khan said, “why race Sinndar any more? He has nothing to prove.”

Shareta, high in the wagering list, will be attempting to emulate her father. There is no better rider than the unflappable Lemaire for big races. Lemaire won the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington this summer on Bayrir.

I flew into Charles De Gaulle Tuesday afternoon after a missed connection and inordinate delays and a stop over at Heathrow. I boarded a train from the airport to Gare Du Nord. A friend runs a sandwich shop on Denain Boulevard, right outside the train station. I am staying with him in a suburb of Paris about 30 minutes from Gare Du Nord.

Tuesday was dry and sunny. It will be cloudy with a high of 63 on Wednesday. Rain is forecast for Thursday. On Friday, morning showers are likely (30 percent chance) and the high will be 68. Saturday’s high will be 64 and the day will be sunny and rain-free. Sunday, Arc day, will also be sunny with a 61 high. You cannot ask for better weather.

Post positions for the Arc will be drawn on Friday. There is a ceremony beginning at 9:30 am. I have to figure out how to get to the draw location.

I am continuing to do my racing column for the Chicago Sun-Times. I have a lot on my plate.

The first US President’s debate is at 8 pm Chicago time on Wednesday. It will be 3 am in Paris on Thursday. I believe I will be up to watch the debate. I have a passion for politics.

Paris in the fall is beautiful. It is a great walking town. You have to secure your pockets. I have been to Paris so often that sightseeing is low on my agenda. Yet, I do not get tired of coming here. Paris and London are intoxicating. On October 8, I take the Eurostar to go to London. Take in English racing and go racing with Silvestre de Sousa. Attend Champions’ Day at Ascot on October 20. Fly back to Chicago on October 21. I am blessed.


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