Camelot had been race favourite for quite a time, but his failure to capture the Triple Crown in the St Leger at Doncaster saw him lose that position to last year’s winner Danedream. That was simply a reaction to Camelot’s defeat, but it was action on the racecourse yesterday that brought about the next change.
The Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp yesterday went to a Triple Crown winner, but this was the Japanese horse Orfevre. His performance was sound, though he did no more than was expected of him, beating Meandre and Joshua Tree by a length and a neck. Although Coral shortened him to 4/1, making him their clear favourite, other bookmakers were initially more circumspect, but most followed suit later. This morning, Orfevre and Danedream were sharing the favourite spot at odds of 4/1 or 9/2.
There are, though, good reasons to be cautious about Orfevre. First, and perhaps most significant, Yasutoshi Ikee reckoned that yesterday’s run was not good enough to win the Arc. He said, “I was not disappointed, because it was his first time at Longchamp and he won. He can run better, and if he runs like that in the Arc he will be beaten. I have to think about how to handle him in the next three weeks to improve him.”
Secondly, the Prix Foy is not a good Arc trial. You have to go back to Sagace in 1984 to find a horse that won the two races in the same season. True, Montjeu won the Prix Foy, but not until the year after he had taken the Arc.
Finally, Japanese trained horses have yet to win the Arc. They’ve come close before, most notably two years ago, when Nakayama Festa was only a head behind Workforce, but it’s the run of Deep Impact in 2006 that’s most worthy of out attention. Yes, he was a backed in to a ridiculous price of 1/10. Yes he was found to have a banned substance in his bloodstream and disqualified from third place. But what we should note is that Orfevre’s trainer played a major role in supporting his father to prepare Deep Impact for the race.
Trust his judgement that the horse will have to run better to succeed. There are others in the field that have already done that, so be cautious before following yesterday’s winner.