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News from Europe

Soumillon excited about Orfevre's chances: Dettori rides Camelot

By Tom Krish

There was a boatload of Arc news Thursday afternoon but it was overshadowed by an announcement from the British Horseracing Authority. Andrew Heffernan, a jockey and several others including three professional football players, were formally charged with conspiring to lay horses to lose in the betting exchanges. The news came early afternoon. It is rocking the British racing industry.

A betting exchange is a system in which account holders bet against one another. Based on the result, accounts are credited and debited. Betfair that owns TVG is an exchange-betting behemoth. Hollywood Park, in Los Angeles, is now a Betfair property. Exchange betting is not a reality yet in the United States though Betfair is pushing hard.

Frankel is 13 for 13 in his career. The Sir Henry Cecil pupil goes for win #14 in the mile and quarter Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, October 20. That is Champions’ Day at Ascot. It is the British answer to the Breeders’ Cup program in America. It will be the second edition of Champions’ Day in the United Kingdom. Frankel was victorious in York’s Juddmonte International in August and that was the first time that the Galileo colt was traveling a mile and a quarter. The Juddmonte International is a Group I contest sponsored by Khalid Abdullah, Frankel’s owner. A paltry 1/12 is what is being offered on the unbeaten Frankel to win on Champions; Day. It will be Frankel’s swan song.

Cirrus Des Aigles, winner of the 2011 Champion Stakes when beating So You Think, is in the Champion field. An entry in the Prix Dollar over the Arc weekend at Longchamp, Cirrus Des Aigles is not a confirmed starter. The French star is recovering from a setback.

Here is what has happened since my last report. The top news item is the booking of Frankie Dettori to ride Camelot. After a morning workout on Wednesday morning, trainer Aidan O’Brien confirned that Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey will make the trip to Paris. Joseph O’Brien, Aidan’s son, will be aboard St Nicholas Abbey. Joseph cannot make eight stones 11 pounds (123 pounds) on Camelot.

Frankie Dettori has won the Arc three times. His first came with Lammtarra in 1995. Sakhee in 2001 was Dettori’s second Arc winner. The third came with Marienbard in 2002. Camelot will mark Dettori’s 25th consecutive ride in France’s showpiece. Dettori made an emotional statement. “It is a real honor to be asked to ride the Guineas and Derby winner in the Arc. It’s a shame that Godolphin do not have a horse in the race but I am looking forward to riding Camelot.”

Camelot is now the 3/1 market leader with the British bookmakers. With Dettori’s booking, money is flowing in Camelot’s direction. It is the opinion of the punditry that Dettori will be aggressive and keep Camelot much closer to the lead than Joseph O’Brien did.

With Danedream, Nathaniel and Snow Fairy (multiple Grade I winner) out of the race, Camelot and Orfevre occupy pride of place in the pecking order. On Thursday, three horses were supplemented to the Arc at a cost of 100,000 pounds each. Great Heavens, a full sister to Nathaniel and a John Gosden trainee, was entered. Great Heavens won Curragh’s Irish Oaks on testing ground. Saonois, winner of the 2012 French Derby at Chantilly, has been supplemented. The third horse is Bayrir, winner of the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington on Million day, who is owned by the Aga Khan. The only withdrawal on Thursday was Reliable Man. The final declaration is on Friday.

Christophe Soumillon, on Wednesday, took Orfevre for the final work before the Arc. Jockey Soumillon came away thrilled. Winner of the 2003 Arc with Dalakhani and the 2008 running with the unconquered Zarkava, Soumillon knows a thing or two about riding in the big race. “Orfevre worked very well. He has come on in the three weeks after his last run. I am pleased with him,” Soumillon asserted.

It is a glorious day in Paris. Thursday has been sunny. I watched the Presidential debate in Paris. The debate started at 3 am and ended at 4:35 am. I watched it on my laptop. There are three hectic days ahead.


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