where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-09-29 06:36:04  
Ace Impact's reputation at risk in wide-open Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

The G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) is the focus of Sunday’s (1 October) fabulous simulcast programme from ParisLongchamp in Paris, France which features a mouthwatering six Group 1 races and two top-quality handicaps.

While the Arc always oozes class, this year’s 15 declared combatants include Group 1 winners aged three, four, five and six with the unbeaten Ace Impact looking to become the fourth three-year-old to win the Paris spectacular since 2013.

Ace Impact is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget and will be ridden by Cristian Demuro, who jointly accomplished Arc glory when Sottsass stormed to victory in 2020. Rouget had famously sounded positive before that triumph and it is the same now despite, unlike nearly all of his rivals, this bargain purchase that cost €75,000 (approx. HK$620,971) being unproven at the 2400m trip of this €5 million (approx. HK$42.88 million) extravaganza.

“I am very confident,” says Rouget of the son of Cracksman, who has taken an unconventional route to Sunday’s race via the G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano (2000m) at Deauville in August rather than prepping on Arc trials day at ParisLongchamp in September.

At Deauville he quickened from an unpromising position to gain his fifth straight win but it had been his sensational three and a half-length victory in June’s G1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly that launched his huge reputation, breaking the track record in the 2100m Classic and running the last 600m in an electric 34 seconds.

Demuro recalls how what had looked certain victory for hot favourite Big Rock was transformed into runaway victory for Ace Impact. “We were going very fast and I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a horse who accelerated as quickly as he did that day,” he said.

Reflecting on Sunday’s target, the 31-year-old Demuro says of the colt who will embark on this huge challenge from gate eight: “Yes, it will be his first try at 2400 (metres) but all the signs he gives me from the saddle tell me that he will stay just fine. If you added another 300 (metres) to the Prix du Jockey Club I don’t think the result would have been any different.”

Housed next to him in gate seven is Continuous, another potent three-year-old but with a different profile, returning just 15 days after his power in the long Doncaster straight resulted in victory in the G1 St Leger Stakes (2905m). Ryan Moore’s mount will attempt to become the first horse to win the Arc and St Leger in the same season and, though it looks a mighty task, he is trained by Aidan O’Brien who regularly re-writes European racing history.

Strong stayer Continuous has been supplemented for €120,000 (approx. HK$993,755), as has the German-trained Fantastic Moon – another fast-improving colt, adding his decisive victory in September’s Arc trial – the G2 Prix Niel (2400m) – to his equally impressive G1 German Derby (2400m) win at Hamburg in July. He is the mount of Rene Piechulek, rider of shock 2021 Arc winner Torquator Tasso.

Of the older protagonists, UK-trained pair Hukum and Westover will have lots of support while the attempt by Japan to rectify its 0-30 record in Europe’s greatest race rests with Through Seven Seas, who will be under the hands of jockey Christophe Lemaire. She was last seen when getting to within a neck of world champion Equinox in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) at Hanshin in June.


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