Connections of leading Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Shawanda believe the talented three-year-old has yet to hit top gear this season.
Alain de Royer-Dupre’s filly racked up her fifth consecutive win in only six outings with a remarkably easy success in the Group One Prix Vermeille at Longchamp earlier in the month.
Although Shawanda’s official winning distance was three-quarters of a length, jockey Christophe Soumillon was cruising throughout the 12-furlong event and eased his partner right down at the line.
Ominously for her Arc rivals, the Aga Khan’s racing manager Georges Rimaud claims there could still be more to come at Longchamp on October 2.
“We were very impressed with her in the Prix Vermeille but I think she is still improving,” explained Rimaud.
“The trainer did not think she was 100% fit last time because she was carrying a little bit of weight.
“Hopefully we can get her fine-tuned for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.”
The daughter of Sinndar has been delighting Royer-Dupre on the Chantilly gallops and she is due to complete her preparations on Tuesday when she will have her final workout before the Group One feature in France.
“She worked well last week on two occasions at Chantilly and we are very happy with the way things are going,” added Rimaud.
“It was more maintenance galloping than anything but she is enjoying herself.
“She will work again next Tuesday, and that will be it.”
Shawanda’s rich vein of form this season – she also won the Irish Oaks by five lengths in July – has seen her installed by bet365 as the 11-4 joint-favourite for the Arc along with Hurricane Run.
Connections have identified the Andre Fabre-trained three-year-old as the biggest danger of the race after he landed the Irish Derby and the Prix Niel on his last two outings.
And while Royer-Dupre’s charge will be competing against colts for the first time in her career, Rimaud is confident that should not hinder Shawanda’s chances of success a week on Sunday.
“Certain people thought Hurricane Run did not run as well as he might have done in the Prix Niel but we were very impressed.
“Andre Fabre knows how to get horses ready for big races and we see him as being the biggest recognisable threat,” said Rimaud.
“It is true Shawanda will be up against colts for the first time but it is also true she has the form to hold up against the rest.
“She is ticking over nicely and it should be a high-quality race.”