Heffernan thinks big

SEAMIE Heffernan has been studying old renewals of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in an attempt to plot the best path to success on So You Think at Longchamp on Sunday.

Heffernan has been burning the midnight oil ahead of the biggest ride of his career on Aidan O’Brien’s giant Australian import.

The question that seems to be on the lips of every pundit is whether So You Think will be as effective over a mile and a half given all of his best form in Ireland is over 10 furlongs.

Heffernan has been on board for his wins in a Group Three at the Curragh, the Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes, and is excited by the prospect of riding him in Europe’s biggest race.

“I’ve only ever ridden him over a mile and a quarter and I’ve been very happy with him over that trip,” said Heffernan.

“The Arc is the Arc and if you don’t run them, you don’t find out.

“Hopefully everything works out. It’s the Arc and it’s always going to be a big field with very strong competition. The bigger field might help him, but you never know.

“He’s a very good horse but you still need a bit of luck on your side and hopefully we get it.

“I remember Mick Kinane’s ride on Sea The Stars when he had to sit and suffer when he was waiting for a gap.

“I’ve been watching a few of the old Arcs on video and I’ve ridden in it a few times so I’m looking forward to it.

“All his preparations have gone very well leading up to it so this is the big day.”

O’Brien also runs Treasure Beach and St Nicholas Abbey.

There had been some lingering doubts about the participation of last year’s winner Workforce due to the hot weather in Paris, but those concerns now appear to have been soothed.Teddy Grimthorpe, owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, walked the track on Friday morning and was pleased with what he saw.

Another positive for the Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old was that he was handed stall eight, the same berth from which he was victorious 12 months ago.

Ryan Moore has also returned from injury in time to ride him.

“I hope it’s as lucky as last year and he’s fared better (in the draw) than some of the other fancied runners,” said Grimthorpe.

“We walked the track this morning and it is on the easy side of good, they put 10 millimetres on so from that point of view we are fairly happy.

“It’s obviously great to have Ryan back, for all the best reasons. He knows him, he’s the only one to have ridden him, and he knows what to expect.

“The horse is in very good shape and we are very happy with him.

“There have not been many dual Arc winners and we’ve got a bit of work to do to join them.”

Masked Marvel has been supplemented at the cost of €100,000 after winning the Ladbrokes St Leger in great style, and represents John Gosden instead of Nathaniel, who will now wait for the Champion Stakes.

“His owner, Mr (Bjorn) Nielsen, has been very sporting and has accepted supplementation,” Gosden told Paris-Turf.

“When we bought Masked Marvel we immediately thought of the St Leger – it’s wonderful to see we weren’t wrong.

“I have respect for the other contenders but I think the biggest danger in the Arc might have been Pour Moi, who is unfortunately already out to stud.

“Masked Marvel has made enormous progress.”

Ed Dunlop was not overjoyed by Snow Fairy’s draw of stall 11.

But given she is usually restrained early in her races, Dunlop feels it is not as important as it would be to some of the others.

He said: “We’re not in one to eight, but neither are So You Think or Sarafina so that’s what has happened.

“With her I don’t think it’s as essential as a horse who needs to be close to the pace. We’ve got what we’ve got so we’ll make the most of it.

“I think she’s adaptable trip-wise. She’s won two Oaks, and won over a mile-and-three in Japan so I’m hoping I won’t be using the excuse.

“I think she’s got enough speed and class that she’s as effective over a mile and a quarter.

“We never really envisaged the ground would be suitable enough for her to run in the Arc, even though we put her in, so Mrs (Cristina) Patino (owner) is very excited as she has a runner in the Arc for the first time so we’ll give it a rumble. We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be very tough, but she deserves to be there.”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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