Soldier Of Fortune can battle his way to success and provide Aidan O’Brien with a first-ever win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
Europe’s all-aged autumn showpiece has proved somewhat elusive for O’Brien, but in this three-year-old he appears to have an ideal candidate who has been given a classic Arc preparation.
Group One-placed as a juvenile, Soldier Of Fortune has gone from strength to strength this summer and followed up a win around the twists and turns of Chester with a creditable fifth in the Derby.
He reportedly turned the corner following that run and coped best of all with horrendous conditions and testing ground at the Curragh to plunder the Irish Derby by a thumping nine lengths.
Soldier Of Fortune then made a successful foray to the Paris suburbs when proving his mettle on fast ground by taking the Prix Niel in record-breaking time.
Johnny Murtagh only had to give him a flick of the whip on that occasion for him to forge clear, and considerable improvement can be expected on that back of what was his first run for almost three months.
Throw into the mix the fact that eight of the last 10 Arc winners have run in the Niel and six horses have won both contests, then Soldier Of Fortune really does have rock-solid credentials.
He does, however, have to reverse Epsom form with Derby winner Authorized, who has been scorching the turf on the gallops in Newmarket.
Admittedly there are few chinks in his armour but he has had a busier time of it than O’Brien’s charge and Soldier Of Fortune looked a different proposition at the Curragh compared to Epsom.
The other horse to note is O’Brien’s four-year-old Dylan Thomas, who is sure to be in the mix granted good ground.
Light Shift sparked emotional scenes at Epsom with her victory in the Oaks and she has an ideal opportunity to win her first race since in the Prix de l’Opera.
Her victory on the Downs was a first Classic success for Henry Cecil since 2000, and she ran on gamely to hold the then unexposed Peeping Fawn at bay.
Cecil’s charge has since suffered reverses at the hands of that rival but has performed creditably in defeat and with Peeping Fawn out of the equation, the Niarchos family-owned filly can ensure the Group One flag is flying high above Warren Place on Sunday evening.
Two fascinating juvenile contests add extra spice to Arc day and Rio De La Plata is awfully hard to oppose in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere after his second to the crack New Approach in Ireland.
Godolphin’s son of Rahy had looked to have a stamp of quality on his previous two starts and racegoers should brace themselves for a Frankie Dettori flying dismount.
The other two-year-old race, the Prix Marcel Boussac, looks a trappy event and Jean-Claude Rouget’s Gipson Dessert is the tentative choice to extend her winning sequence in the race won 12 months ago by dual Classic winner Finsceal Beo.
Patavellian is not the force of old but his third-placed finish in the Ayr Gold Cup shows he retains plenty of dash and on the back of that run, he is a lively each-way shot in the Prix de l’Abbaye.
Finally, Kieren Fallon can send the thousands of Brits who descend on Paris home happy and complete a double for O’Brien as dual Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats in unopposable in the closing Prix du Cadran.
SELECTIONS: 1.15 Patavellian, 1.50 Gipson Dessert, 2.25 Rio De La Plata, 3.00 Light Shift, 3.40 SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (NAP), 4.25 Yeats.