Focus on Frankie but the Heavens may open
So Aidan O’Brien’s colt, who only lost his unbeaten record with that failed Triple Crown attempt in the Leger last month, not only has millions of Coolmore eggs in his basket, but quite a few of his jockeys too.
The Irish star got a real boost yesterday with a stall five draw, and in a race where no double-figure drawn horse has won since Dalakhani in 2003, his main market rival, the Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfervre looked to get a glorified coffin box in the widest of all 18 gate.
Even Japanese racing’s determination to win the race they covet most in the world can hardly be expected to overcome that sort of ill-fortune, although it is noticeable how other main contenders like Masterstroke, Sea Moon, Meandre and Shareta are also drawn high.
Aidan O’Brien’s other hope, St Nicholas Abbey, is in 10 and it would be ironic if Joseph O’Brien’s inability to do 8st 11lb on Camelot bounced back in his favour on the Ballydoyle number two. And on a fast surface there would be temptation at double-figure odds to reckon St Nicholas Abbey might be up to a big run at his best. After all he was only just off Nathaniel and Snow Fairy in the Irish Champion and will relish a return to a mile and a half. But ground conditions at Longchamp are forecast to be soft, hardly idea for Camelot either, as both horses attempt to become just the seventh Irish trained Arc winner.
The 2012 renewal has been spectacularly hit by defections though, notably last year’s winner Danedream and both Snow Fairy and Nathaniel who would have relished the going but misses out due to illness.
Significantly though Nathaniel’s full-sister Great Heavens has been supplemented at a cost of €100,000 and while John Gosden has described her as “no Nathaniel” the fact remains that fee was a lot for any owners to pony up just to have something to look at in Paris. Like her brother Great Heavens thrives on the soft and a look back to her Irish Oaks win reveals a real talent considering the trouble she found before accelerating past her rivals.
So while Frankie and Camelot may be the story beforehand, it may be worth betting at a decent price that everyone will be looking to Great Heavens afterwards.