Camelot faces a crucial workout on Wednesday morning as trainer Aidan O’Brien insists he is looking “very strongly” at running his Classic hero in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The colt won the 2000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby earlier in the year only to have his Triple Crown bid scuppered by Godolphin’s Encke in the St Leger at Doncaster last month.
A crack at the Longchamp feature looked unlikely in the aftermath of that defeat, but O’Brien is now giving serious thought to the 12-furlong autumn showpiece.
Camelot has been ridden by Joseph O’Brien on each of his six starts to date but the jockey will not be able to make the required weight in France and is set to partner older stablemate St Nicholas Abbey instead.
O’Brien has yet to consider possible replacements aboard Camelot, with the Ballydoyle handler keen to see how the Montjeu colt fares in his work first.
“Obviously we’re looking at it (the Arc) very strongly with the two big horses, Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey,” he told RTE Radio.
“Both of them are doing a little bit in the morning and if they come through that well, I think everybody will sit down and have a chat about it tomorrow afternoon and we’ll see what we’re going to do.
“It would be great if both of them ran but obviously they have to be well and they have to go through all their tests tomorrow and pass all those things before they get the all clear, but we’d be looking forward to it if that could happen.”
Two key contenders were ruled out of the Arc on Tuesday with last year’s winner Danedream and leading British contender Nathaniel confirmed as non-runners.
Connections of Danedream were forced to scratch the filly on Tuesday morning after the stables at Cologne racecourse where she is housed were placed into quarantine.
Then at lunchtime, it was revealed Nathaniel, who was second to the German mare in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July had suffered a setback.
The four-year-old colt, trained by John Gosden, returned unsatisfactory blood tests when he was found to have had a temperature.
“He had a temperature this morning, they took some blood tests and his blood wasn’t right,” said James Wigan, racing manager to owner Lady Rothschild.
“Considering how close we are to the race, we cannot consider running him.”
The withdrawal of Danedream was inevitable once her stable complex in Germany was dramatically placed into quarantine.
The story first emerged on Monday evening and Cologne racecourse has now been shut down for three months after a horse tested positive for a serious equine infection of the blood. All horses based there cannot leave.
France Galop’s media manager Julien Pescatore said: “There is a quarantine period of 90 days, and for that reason Danedream will not be able to run in the Arc.
“It is really sad that she will not be able to run, but there is nothing we can do about it.”
The timing of the closure of Cologne racecourse could not have been worse for Danedream’s connections.
Patrick Barbe, racing manager for her part-owner Teruya Yoshida, said on Tuesday morning: “The quarantine is round the race track in Cologne and nothing can come in and out of there for three months.
“That situation at the moment is final and binding.
“If the race was in two weeks they might have found a solution, but with time being so short to the deadline for the race it has proved too difficult.”
With Snow Fairy was also taken out of the race at the weekend, betting on Europe’s premier middle-distance race has endured a major overhaul.
The only consolation for backers of Danedream is that most bookmakers are refunding stakes.
Japanese challenger Orfevre, winner of the Prix Foy, has strengthened as favourite, at around 5-2, with a field of 17 currently in the race following the latest scratchings stage.
There is a supplementary stage on Thursday at which Saonois, winner of the Prix du Jockey-Club and Prix Niel, is expected to be added.
With the race opening up, several horses are now attracting support, including the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sea Moon, who is now 10-1 from 14-1 with Ladbrokes.
Their spokesman David Williams said: “The big name defections have thrown the Arc market into disarray but the real money continues to come for Sea Moon.
“He’s been easily the best backed horse in the race since the weekend.”
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Ladbrokes bet: 5-2 Orfevre, 4-1 Camelot, 7-1 Masterstroke, 8-1 Shareta, Saonois, 10-1 St Nicholas Abbey, Sea Moon, Meandre, 16-1 Imperial Monarch, 25-1 bar.