I headed west on the subterranean rattler last evening for a gathering of the London Racing Club at the Kensington Forum, Gloucester Road. There, a panel hosted by Racing Post's Sam Lawrie and comprising of Adrian Beaumont (International Racing Bureau), Nick Smith (Director of Racing, Ascot), and Nicola McGeady (Ladbrokes PR), offered thoughts and comments on the racing at Chantilly this weekend as well as events further into the future at Ascot and in Melbourne.
All were somewhat hamstrung by having to project without knowing which horses will actually run (deadline for Sunday declarations is today), so do keep that in mind in the light (my fault, not the panel's) but interesting (the panel's fault, not mine) notes which follow.
Saturday Arc Weekend Thoughts
Prix du Cadran
NM: In the absence of Big Orange, this looks a home banker for Vazirabad. He's 8/13 in places now, but could be closer to 1/3 by the weekend. If shorties are your thing, there's plenty of value in his price.
AB: Robin Of Navan is nap material. He's a Chantilly specialist who was beaten only four lengths by Ribchester last time. That form is good enough to win this. Ten furlongs, the Dollar range, is his trip.
Prix Daniel Wildenstein
AB: Taareef may be 4/6 but he looks a good thing. He's beaten all the decent horses in France this year barring a sub-par effort in the Jacques le Marois.
Prix de Royallieu
AB: Off a long time prior to a solid prep in a Group 2 in August, The Juliet Rose can make a bold bid to follow up on last year's win in the race.
Sunday Arc Weekend Thoughts
Prix Marcel Boussac
NS: The Aidan O'Brien choice in the race will be of obvious interest. That could be September, and she'd have a definite chance.
NM: Polydream will be favourite for the French, regardless of what AOB runs. She is unbeaten in two and looks tough to beat on her Calvados win.
Prix Jean Luc Lagardere
SL: Scott Burton (RP's French correspondent) likes Olmedo a lot. He's 7/1.
AB: Olmedo ran well on soft ground when just failing to reel in Charlie Appleby's Stage Magic last time. Looks a value price, may go off favourite on PMU. Also, if he runs here, Beckford has really good form in the book and 10/1 offers e/w appeal.
NS: Masar has an obvious chance after a clear cut win in the Solario Stakes last time.
NM: Ladbrokes' traders also like Masar and want to keep it onside.
Prix de l'Opera
NS: AOB was very open about Winter being under-cooked ahead of the Matron Stakes last time, and they were really pleased with how she ran there. She may as well go for the Arc, but if running here she'd have a mighty chance. If she does go to the Arc, Hydrangea becomes of interest. She's been thereabouts in G1's all season and deserved her Matron Stakes success last time.
NM: Onthemoonagain is a sporting each way suggestion at around 14/1. She's been steadily improving since falling in the French Oaks and might surprise.
AB: The German filly, Lacazar, is under-rated at a general 12/1. Trained by Peter Schiergen, she's won her last four, including a hands and heels win in the German Oaks, where Wuheida was five lengths back in third. She loves the mud, so if the rain does come, she's a solid chance.
Prix de l'Abbaye
NM: Much talk of this being between the two British runners, but Signs Of Blessing has home advantage, loves soft ground and looks value against the top of the market.
NS: Battaash is better than Marsha, but he's also more quirky. Signs Of Blessing has had this as his target whereas the others have kind of 'fallen in' here. Would personally have him as favourite.
AB: Ignore Signs Of Blessing form outside of France. He's a notoriously poor traveller, and has a great chance in this. Surprised he's not favourite. The Prix de Saint-Georges form from earlier in the season (SoB won) is probably the standout piece of form in the race. There he gave Profitable 11lb and a beating.
Prix de la Foret
NM: Aclaim is 4/1 and was taking at Doncaster and was taking at Doncaster when he won the Group 2 Park Stakes. He comes here fresh and goes on any ground so ought to be a player. There has been money for Karar and he's into 8/1.
AB: Inns Of Court, trained by Andre Fabre, is progressive. Only three, he won a G3 in July, and was a short head second in the Jacques Le Marois before disappointing a little in the Prix du Moulin. Just about top on ratings and 7/1 is a nice price about his chance.
Arc Weekend Best Bets
NS: Signs Of Blessing 11/2 Coral
NM: Signs Of Blessing 11/2 Coral
AB: Inns Of Court 7/1 general
Thanks a million to the panel for their time, and of course, to Kate and all of the team at London Racing Club, who always put on a great show.
p.s. Take a gander at this if you're looking for an Arc preview.