Fresh bid by Gosden to secure dream Arc triumph

JOHN Gosden’s Arc dream is back on after he chose to supplement Irish Oaks heroine Great Heavens in Europe’s blue riband race.

The surprise move came less than 24 hours after stable star Nathaniel – a full brother to Great Heavens – was withdrawn from the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe because of an infection.

Both horses are owned by Lady Rothschild and the probable soft going at Longchamp is said to have been a contributory factor.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Stable jockey William Buick takes the ride, perhaps explaining why he was overlooked by Aidan O’Brien to partner 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby hero Camelot, who will be the mount of Frankie Dettori as Ballydoyle’s top horse looks to bounce back from his Triple Crown reverse in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.

Bayrir and Saonois have also been supplemented as anticipated, while Reliable Man is the only withdrawal, leaving a field of 18 possible runners following a turbulent week that saw the withdrawals of last year’s winner Danedream, because of a virus in Germany that has resulted in travel restrictions, and the globetrotting Snow Fairy.

Gosden is vying to become champion trainer for the first time in a distinguished career and paid tribute yesterday to his sporting owners for stumping up 100,000 euros to add Great Heavens to the Longchamp showpiece which is Europe’s richest race worth in excess of two million euros.

Gosden said: “It wasn’t a straightforward decision but she’s working nicely and is in good order.

“They had significant rain in Paris overnight, so a few things weighed in favour of running and I think the owners have made a very sporting decision to let her take her chance.”

William Hill make Great Heavens a 12-1 shot to claim Arc glory, with Japanese star Orfevre and the aforementioned Camelot the joint-favourites at 11-4.

Great Heavens came to prominence when winning the Lancashire Oaks in early July on the same afternoon that Nathaniel, the 2011 King George hero, was landing the Eclipse at Sandown.

She has not been seen since galloping through the mud at The Curragh on July 22 to land the Darley Irish Oaks, and it was thought that the Qipco British Champions Fillies’ And Mares’ Stakes at Ascot on October 20 was her primary end-of-season target.

The meeting could see Nathaniel take on Frankel in the Qipco Champion Stakes when Sir Henry Cecil’s champion puts his 13-race unbeaten record on the line.

When the two horses met on their racecourse debuts at Newmarket two years ago, Frankel beat Nathaniel by a neck.

“He’s been out this morning and seems much brighter and happier in himself,” said Gosden yesterday. “He’ll have another test on Saturday and hopefully things will be back to normal. I am certainly much happier with him now than earlier in the week.”

As to a clash with Frankel, he said: “We’ll take things one day at a time.”

In other Longchamp news, Gosden is leaning towards running Izzi Top rather than The Fugue in Sunday’s Prix de l’Opera.

The Fugue – winner of York’s Musidora Stakes in May – beat her stable companion comprehensively in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in early August and very nearly completed a Group One double when only narrowly denied by French filly Shareta in the Yorkshire Oaks.

Izzi Top bounced from her disappointing Goodwood effort when beaten less than a length by the iconic Snow Fairy in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and Gosden feels conditions in Paris may suit her better than her stablemate after significant rain on Wednesday evening.

“We have the two of them in there at the moment and we are watching the ground, as they want different types of ground,” he said.

Meanwhile York winner Gordon Lord Byron has been supplemented in the Group One Qatar Prix de la Foret.

Trainer Tom Hogan revealed that it was jockey William Buick who suggested they targeted that race.

Gordon Lord Byron had alternative engagements in the Bengough Stakes at Ascot tomorrow and the Concorde Stakes at Tipperary on Sunday.

Connections have plumped for the French contest for the four-year-old, who was runner-up to Society Rock in the Betfred Sprint Cup on his latest start.