Dermot Weld’s dual Derby winner Harzand booked his ticket for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly on Sunday with an impressive gallop yesterday morning.
Unfortunately for Weld and Frankie Dettori, though, stablemate Fascinating Rock finds the race coming too soon and will instead be kept back in an attempt to win a second Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Harzand’s participation had been placed in some doubt after the Irish Champion Stakes three weeks ago, just his second defeat in six races.
But just as he had shown after the Investec Derby, his powers of recuperation are exemplary and Harzand heads to France reportedly at the top of his game.
All big-race jockey Pat Smullen is hoping for, however, is a favourable draw after the Weld-trained Famous Name was narrowly denied in the French Derby from stall 17 at Chantilly in 2008.
“Harzand’s in tremendous form, I’m really happy with him,” Smullen told At The Races.
“I rode him (Tuesday morning) and he felt well, it’s all systems go.
“It looks like the ground is going to be on the quick side but you never know, they might get a drop of rain between now and raceday.
“The draw did for Famous Name in the Jockey Club so hopefully we’ll get somewhere in the middle.
“Hopefully it’s not an over-big field, you don’t want to be out on the wing.”
Dettori is once again searching for a mount, and his agent Ray Cochrane accepts time is running out.
He said: “It’s unlikely we’ll be able to find one now, but we’re ever hopeful.
“There aren’t many British runners anyway and the French trainers tend to stick with their own jockeys.”
Impressive Irish Champion Stakes winner Almanzor is still on target for Ascot’s Champion Stakes despite appearing among 19 confirmations.
Following the weekend news fellow Jean-Claude Rouget-trained runner La Cressonniere would miss the race, there were rumblings the French Derby winner could stay closer to home instead.
However, while he has been left in the showpiece race, connections confirmed it is still the plan to bring him to Ascot on October 15.
“He’s been left in just as a precaution but he will go to England,” said Sylvain Vidal, racing manager for part-owner Gerard Augustin-Normand.
“I don’t think he’ll be running in the Arc, Jean-Claude wants to go to England with him.
“He has such a turn of foot, as he showed in Ireland, that 10 furlongs suits him better than 12.
“Also, three weeks would be a bit sharp to run him back, Ascot will be nearly five which is better.
“In England he will be up against mainly the same horses he beat in Ireland so it makes more sense, there’s no point in changing things.
“He stays in training next year,” he added.
Postponed is the ante-post favourite for Roger Varian and arrives unbeaten in four starts this year, having most recently been successful in the Juddmonte International at York.
Japan’s quest to win a first Arc continues, this time with Makahiki, who went through his final paces on the gallops yesterday morning under Christophe Lemaire.
Aidan O’Brien has left in Found, Order Of St George and Highland Reel, with The Grey Gatsby the only other possible from Britain and Ireland – though there is a supplementary stage for the Arc tomorrow.
New Bay, Silverwave and Left Hand are others to note.