No reason to oppose Behkabad in the Arc

Bill Esdaile
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PARIS was hit by so much rain earlier in the week that Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will almost certainly be run on bottomless ground. Connections of the top three in the betting have all moaned about the weather over the last few days, but strangely all three have wins under their belts on either very soft or heavy ground.

When trying to find the winner of Europe’s richest race, I normally always start (and often finish) with the Prix Niel – 10 of the last 16 winners have gone on to win the Arc. BEHKABAD, this year’s winner, has won all three of his lifetime starts at Longchamp and the last two of those wins have been over the 12 furlong Arc trip on testing ground.

On both of those occasions he has come out on top in titanic battles with Planteur (who re-opposes again) and there is every chance they will fight out the finish once more on Sunday. However, Behkabad won the Prix Niel with a little more in hand than the official winning margin of a head may suggest and he is worth an interest at 7/2 with Stan James.

Fame And Glory looks sure to run a solid race, but may lack the required gears at the business end. While old favourite Youmzain, runner-up on each occasion for the last three years, will be looking to become the first seven-year-old to win since Motrico in 1932. He may well make the frame once more but doesn’t make too much each-way appeal at 14/1 with Paddy Power.

If there is to be a massive shock, it may well be Godolphin’s CAVALRYMAN at a massive 40/1. Last season’s Prix Niel winner and Arc third will relish the big field and fast pace, and looks sure to appreciate the cut in the ground. He is far better than he has shown so far this campaign and may well surprise a few at a huge price.

The Prix de l’Abbaye is as difficult as ever, as the forecast ground will prevent the majority of these speedballs from showing their natural pace. The fillies Swiss Diva and Lady Of The Desert are the obvious ones with their weight allowance, but they are plenty short enough for such a tough race. I’d prefer to take an each-way chance on both PLANET FIVE and AMICO FRITZ as they will relish these conditions and are currently trading at around 16/1.

REGAL PARADE looks like a cracking each-way bet at around 8/1 in the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs. Dandy Nicholls’s mudlark has already won in France this season and can shake up French wonder mare Goldikova on ground she’ll hate and over a trip that is too short for her. She is a terrific lay on Betdaq at around 11/8 as she has been beaten on three of the four occasions she has run on ground this soft.

Back on home soil and Newmarket stages the Cambridgeshire tomorrow afternoon at 3.40pm. John Gosden is bidding to land the race for the third time in four years and his rapidly improving Nationalism currently heads the betting at 4/1. However, that’s really short in a field of over 30 runners and I’d prefer to take a chance on the stable’s supposed second string TAQLEED at 12/1. He also looks to be improving at a rate of knots, will relish any juice underfoot and has won at the track before. I’ll also throw in Walter Swinburn’s ABSINTHE at around 12/1 as another who could be a couple of steps in front of the handicapper.

TAQLEED e/w 3.40pm Newmarket (tomorrow)

ABSINTHE e/w 3.40pm Newmarket (tomorrow)

PLANET FIVE e/w 12.35pm Longchamp (Sunday)

AMICO FRITZ e/w 12.35pm Longchamp (Sunday)

REGAL PARADE e/w 2.20pm Longchamp (Sunday)

BEHKABAD 3.05pm Longchamp (Sunday)

CAVALRYMAN e/w 3.05pm Longchamp (Sunday)