A truly stunning weekend lies ahead with high-class European racing from Longchamp, Leopardstown, the Curragh and Doncaster.
The English Derby winner Golden Horn will look to get his season back on track, when running in the Irish Champion Stakes. Yet again there has to be a slight worry over conditions with rain forecast to arrive overnight. Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle may well prove his sternest challenger with the weather likely to again scupper the mouth-watering clash with Gleneagles.
Over the channel the French Derby winner New Bay is set to step-up in trip for the Prix Niel. He faces a major test in the form of Grand Prix de Paris victor Erupt. Connections of both will be hoping the race proves a perfect prep with the Arc just around the corner.
The Irish St Leger takes place at the Curragh on Sunday along with a whole host of top-class juvenile events including the Moyglare and the National Stakes. Whilst at Doncaster on Saturday, the final English Classic takes place when a field of eight assemble for the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes.
But it’s at Longchamp on Sunday that the undoubted star of the show steps back on the track. The wonder-filly Treve runs in the Qatar Prix Vermeille as she continues her preparation towards a bid for an unprecedented third Arc victory in October. It was very much this same race last year that sowed a seed of doubt over Treve’s ability to add to her first Arc triumph. A lacklustre performance appeared to reveal a horse in decline. However, physical ailments were overcome, and when the big day arrived she once again dazzled.
Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek appears confident of her filly’s wellbeing, when recently saying: “three weeks ago she had a lot of energy when she went back on the turf for the first time and she pulled a lot. The time after that it was the same, she was very free. Today she was a lot more relaxed. It shows me she is getting stronger."
A victory on Sunday would of course be pleasing for connections, but the trainer will have her eyes firmly on that one date in October. Treve faces eight rivals this weekend including Golden Horn’s York conqueror Arabian Queen. David Elsworth will be hoping his filly can build on her stunning Juddmonte International success. Her ability to settle in the race will prove key to her performance.
Aidan O’Brien is represented by his Pretty Polly winner Diamondsandrubies. She flopped at Goodwood in the Nassau Stakes, but had previously beaten Legatissimo, Secret Gesture and Pleascach at the Curragh. She is clearly talented and capable of a huge run. The French three-year-old Candarliya has run up a series of wins and carries the famous Aga Khan silks. Successful three times from the last 10 renewals, the owner famously took the race in 2008 with the stunning filly Zarkava.
Whatever the outcome on Sunday, few will make the mistake of last year, in doubting the chances of Treve when they return for the Arc in October. It’s set to be a thrilling and highly informative few days.