WILLIAM HAGGAS does not know what it takes to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as his only previous runner in Flat racing’s blue riband contest was unplaced.
However, the owners of Sea Of Class have winning form in the Arc and Skipton-born Haggas is hopeful that the Yorkshire Oaks heroine – the mount of James Doyle – can overcome an unfavourable wide draw in tomorrow’s showpiece race headed by defending champion Enable.
“Her owner Mrs Tsui has had two runners in the Arc – Urban Sea, who won, and the second was Sea The Stars, who also won, so she’s got an unblemished record,” said the Newmarket-based trainer whose father-in-law is legendary jockey Lester Piggott.
“Mine is very blemished. I’ve had one runner in the Arc, Shaamit, who finished eighth and got injured in the race, so I’d like to have another go and it’s nice to go there with a chance.
“We were very pleased with Sea Of Class at York, as we were at the Curragh when she won the Irish Oaks, but obviously she’s got bigger fish to fry now.
“But she has a change of speed and that is as crucial as anything in a horse race.
“She was asked to do quite a lot at the Curragh in coming from where she did, but she managed it.
“After that the next option against fillies was the Yorkshire Oaks against her elders and she was impressive again.
“Obviously it is very competitive and my friend and rival up the Bury Road (John Gosden) has a great chance with Enable. He’d like lots of rain whereas I’d like none.
“There are also lots of other horses – the Arc is always a championship race.”
As for Enable, Frankie Dettori’s mount runs in the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah whose racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe is chairman of York racecourse.
Injury-sidelined for most of the year, the four-year-old made a pleasing – and winning – return at Kempton last month and Grimthorpe said last night: “It hasn’t been a rushed year – well, this part of it hasn’t. It’s been a shortened year, but probably at the right end.
“Everything from the summer onwards has gone very well, she’s been straightforward in every way. You can make of it what you will that she made her return at Kempton, but it was still very satisfactory from the point of view that she hadn’t run since October last year.
“It was pleasing to see how much she enjoyed it, so we’re going into the race positively.”
European racing’s signature day also sees the five-furlong Prix de l’Abbaye in which Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart has Alpha Delphini, a last-gasp winner of York’s Nunthorpe Stakes at the Ebor festival.
Smart, who has previously won this race with his challenger’s half brother Tangerine Trees, said Graham Lee’s mount is in fine form after a piece of work earlier this week.
“It would be special if he could match his brother, but at least he’s going with a Group One under his belt. That’s the good thing, he’s already done it,” said Smart.