Orfevre has Soumillon dreaming of third Arc

Christophe Soumillon left Longchamp yesterday with the belief Orfevre had the potential to provide him with a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after the Japanese Triple Crown star made a successful European debut.

Arriving in France with a considerable reputation, not to mention dozens of local media, the chestnut is favourite with some bookmakers for the season’s final major prize back at the Parisian course in three weeks after a one-length victory in the Prix Foy.

Orfevre is entrusted with Japanese hopes of going one place better than El Condor Pasa and Nakayama Festa both managed in the Arc, and will have the assistance of course specialist Soumillon once again.

Tackling this traditional trial for older horses, the Yasutoshi Ikee-trained four-year-old tailed his pacemaker Aventino from the back of the field of five but charged up the inside of his weakening stablemate with a couple of furlongs to run before being pushed clear of Andre Fabre’s Meandre.

“The pace was a bit slow and he was a bit fresh, but I was very happy,” said Soumillon.

“I just wanted to keep in touch with the horse on his first experience at Longchamp, as it’s not easy to win here.

“You can see in two strides, I felt exactly what you need for an Arc de Triomphe horse.

“Hopefully he will improve a bit as he needs to improve to win an Arc but the trainer has done a perfect job so far.”

Coral offer Orfevre as their 4-1 market leader ahead of last year’s champion Danedream at 9-2.

The Prix Niel, the trial for three-year-olds, saw a cluster of horses in with a chance with a furlong left, but Saonois eventually found the telling turn of foot when squeezing through Bayrir and Last Train.

An unconsidered 25-1 winner of the French Derby last time from little-known Lyon trainer Jean-Pierre Gauvin, he also earned a chance at the big one.

“He is better over a mile and a half and was a bit free and fresh today but he gets better with every run,” said Gauvin.

“He will be supplemented for the Arc.”

A more convincing case was advanced by last season’s Arc runner-up Shareta, who has become a more imposing individual as a four-year-old and took the Group One Prix Vermeille by two lengths.

Also the winner of the Yorkshire Oaks three weeks ago, Shareta never looked in much danger under a positive Christophe Lemaire.

Owner the Aga Khan said: “I think the ground would have to be very heavy for her not run in the Arc again.

“She is a far more mature filly than last year. We always thought she was good, but she has learned to accelerate.

“We learned a lot about her at York, which is a very demanding track, and she needs pace.

“As she has developed, she can handle softish ground, just not deep, holding ground.”

Dermot Weld’s Ribblesdale Stakes winner Princess Highway dropped away rather tamely.

Newmarket’s sprint specialist Robert Cowell again took the Prix du Petit Couvert he won a year ago with Prohibit when Monsieur Joe edged out Dandy Nicholls’ Inxile by three parts of a length.

“I expected him to be in the first two,” Cowell said. “He’d be 50-50 to come back for the Prix de l’Abbaye. I think this might be is level rather than a Group One, and he’ll definitely go back to Dubai.” Of Inxile, Nicholls said: “The ground did him, it was too quick, but he’ll be back here in three weeks.”

Despite the form of Willing Foe’s Ebor win receiving an almighty boost at the weekend with runner-up Royal Diamond winning the Irish St Leger, Godolphin’s five-year-old could manage only third in the Prix Gladiateur behind Ivory Land.

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