O’Brien has no worries with soft ground for his Arc duo
Ruler Of The World and Leading Light to run at Longchamp on Sunday
Ryan Moore rides Ruler of the World to victory in The Investec Derby at Epsom back in June. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Aidan O’Brien feels soft ground will hold no fears for Ruler Of The World and Leading Light in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Heavy rain on Thursday night turned the ground soft and the jockeys riding there on Saturday reported the going to be fairly testing, although the weather appears set fair for the rest of the weekend.
O’Brien’s pair are both available at double-figure prices, despite faring well at the draw with single-figure stalls and each of them has already won a Classic this season, with Ruler Of The World landing the Investec Derby and Leading Light the Ladbrokes St Leger.
Ruler Of The World bounced back from a disappointing run in the Irish Derby to be beaten a short-head by the Japanese Derby winner Kizuna in the Prix Niel, while Leading Light faces another drop back in trip after winning over two miles at Royal Ascot.
“I think the lads (owners John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor) always had one eye on him (Leading Light) with regards to the Arc but he was pointed at Ascot first and then Doncaster and then they waited to see what happened, but I think it was always on their minds.
“His two runs before Ascot were over a mile and a quarter, he was a Group winner over that trip before Ascot, then won over two miles at Ascot and came back to a mile and six at Doncaster, so it’s a gradual progression back (in trip).
“We’re very happy with Ruler Of The World. He was just back after a break (in the Niel) and Ryan was very happy and learned a lot about him. It can get rough at Longchamp and he will have learned he’s happy to be in there.
“I don’t think either of them will mind the ground, both of them have form on easy ground.”
Flintshire headed the ante-post market after his impressive success in the Grand Prix de Paris but was only fourth in the Niel on soft ground.
Conditions are again a concern for the Andre Fabre-trained colt, with Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “He needs it to dry out, I don’t think there’s any secret about that. We certainly don’t want any more rain. Other than that, the horse is fine.”
Speaking during racing on Saturday, jockey Danny Tudhope said: “It’s soft ground, and it’s on the dead side.”
Liam Jones confirmed the ground as “soft”, while James Doyle said “definitely soft”.
King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes hero Novellist has been ruled out after running a temperature.
Andreas Wohler’s four-year-old produced a scintillating display to clinch Ascot’s midsummer showpiece in July under Johnny Murtagh and was set to head to France as a major contender for the Longchamp feature after a satisfactory prep race win at Baden-Baden last month.
However, Wohler discovered all was not well with his stable star when preparing him for his trip to Paris this morning and had no option but to pull him out of Europe’s premier middle-distance event.
Wohler said: “He had a temperature this morning and it has developed even more, so there is no way we can let him travel to Paris.
“It’s unbelievable and very disappointing, but he has given us some great moments this year.”
The Gutersloh-based handler is understandably keen to let the dust settle before making future plans, but he did raise the possibility of Novellist running again before the end of the year.
“He will get an entry in the Japan Cup, but it is much to early to think about that now,” said the trainer.