Motivator ready for Arc challenge

Connections of Motivator have reported the Vodafone Derby hero to be in sparkling form ahead of Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Connections of Motivator have reported the Vodafone Derby hero to be in sparkling form ahead of Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Michael Bell’s three-year-old – one of 18 five-day confirmations for the Group One spectacular – was last seen finishing an admirable runner-up behind Oratorio in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown earlier this month.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners the Royal Ascot Racing Club, confirmed the Montjeu colt is in fine fettle.

“The horse is in great shape and this is a race that I guess will decide the champion middle-distance horse,” Herbert told At The Races.

“I spoke to Michael Bell this morning and the news, touch-wood, is very good.

“All tests are clean and clear and it’s all systems go for Arc day - everything is absolutely tickety-boo with the horse.”

Johnny Murtagh will partner Motivator in the 12-furlong event at Longchamp.

Murtagh was last aboard Bell’s charge when finishing second to Oratorio in the Coral-Eclipse in July.

However, the Arc-winning rider missed out on the the Irish Champion Stakes after being handed bans totalling 23 days at Leopardstown on August 14.

Kevin Darley was aboard on that occasion, but Murtagh will return to the helm for the autumnal highlight of the Flat season.

“Johnny Murtagh rides him in France and is very much looking forward to it as long as the ground is good or easier,” Herbert said.

“He is a horse with a lot of speed as we saw in the Irish Champion Stakes in particular.

“We were thrilled with him in the Irish Champion because we felt he didn’t look the same horse in the Eclipse.

“Coming off the bend I thought we might just win it, but Oratorio came and did us again.

“He’s got a great turn of foot this horse and hopefully that’s what we’ll see on Sunday.”

There were no major surprises at the five-day stage as all the major players stood their ground.

As expected Ed Dunlop’s Ouija Board, third in the Arc last year and an impressive winner at Newmarket last Saturday, has been taken out.

Hurricane Run, the 5-2 market leader with Coral, heads a high-quality field, while the Aga Khan’s Shawanda also features among the possible runners.

Alain De Royer-Dupre’s talented filly is unbeaten in her last five races, including a five-length success in the Irish Oaks, and has already been trimmed from 3-1 to 11-4 by Coral.

Aidan O’Brien and Godolphin are represented by St Leger winner Scorpion and last year’s Arc runner-up Cherry Mix respectively.

Connections of Bago are targeting a second consecutive Arc for the Nashwan colt, while veteran campaigner Mubtaker could step back up to Group One company for the first time since a disappointing run in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in July.

However, Mubtaker’s assistant trainer Patrick McEwan warned punters the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned entire is not a certain starter on Sunday.

“Marcus Tregoning [Mubtaker’s trainer] and Sheikh Hamdan have obviously had the opportunity to speak in Ireland,” said McEwan.

“I don’t know what they have decided but I don’t think you should read too much into the fact he has been left in.

“It’s probably just a case of Sheikh Hamdan wanting to keep his options open with the horse. We will have to see.”

Luca Cumani could bid for more big-race glory following Starcraft’s victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Alkaased, while Clive Brittain’s Warrsan and the David Elsworth-trained Norse Dancer complete the British party.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Coral bet: 5-2 Hurricane Run, 11-4 Shawanda, 4-1 Motivator, 6-1 Bago, 12-1 Scorpion, 14-1 Alkaased, 20-1 Pride, Westerner, 25-1 Cherry Mix, 33-1 Shirocco, Mubtaker, 40-1 Warrsan, 66-1 Darsalam, Manduri, Norse Dancer, Samando, 100-1 Konigstiger, 200-1 Voltmeter.

VC Bet bet: 5-2 Hurricane Run, 3-1 Shawanda, 4-1 Motivator, 6-1 Bago, 10-1 Scorpion, 14-1 Alkaased, 16-1 Pride, 20-1 Cherry Mix, 25-1 Westerner, 25-1 Mubtaker, 33-1 Shirocco, 33-1 Warrsan, 33-1 Darsalam, 50-1 Norse Dancer, 50-1 Samando, 66-1 Manduro, 100-1 Konigstiger, 150-1 Voltmeter.

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