WILLIAM Buick feels “very privileged” to be Jack Hobbs’s companion as the Classic-winning colt takes the final step towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the Kempton all-weather this afternoon.
Rather than head to Longchamp for an Arc trial next weekend, trainer John Gosden will instead use the totescoop6 September Stakes as preparation for Europe’s showpiece Flat race on October 4.
Runner-up to stablemate Golden Horn in both York’s Dante Stakes and the Epsom Derby, the Godolphin-owned son of Halling went one better in the Irish Derby with a spectacular five-length victory.
Buick is adamant that the mile-and-a-half September Stakes is a more logistically suitable assignment than successive visits to France.
“He’s done very well for his break since the Irish Derby and it’s a nice step for him before the Arc,” said the Northern Racing College graduate.
“He doesn’t have to travel all the way to France to have a run. Kempton is only down the road and it’s a level, even surface – a surface which he trains on most days. I think it’s a very good idea and he’s in good shape.
“The Prix Niel for the three-year-olds and the Prix Foy for older horses are fantastic prep races, being around Longchamp and over the same trip as the Arc, but when you come from England you have to travel all the way there and then come back again three weeks later.
“It is an ask, especially for three-year-olds. I think it can only help the horse the way John has chosen to do it. He’s been pleasing everybody at home. He’s always going to be a horse for the long term and I think physically he’s done very well for the break. I feel very privileged to ride a horse like him.”
However Gosden’s Mr Singh is another absentee from next Saturday’s Ladbrokes St Leger following a dirty scope which means the joint second favourite cannot have a preparatory gallop today.
Just 11 horses now remain for a rather threadbare-looking final Classic of the year, including six trained by Aidan O’Brien. However the Ralph Beckett-trained Simple Verse, owned by Qatar Racing, could be added to the field following a Group Three success at Goodwood last month.
Lady Jane Cecil – widow of Sir Henry – hands in her training licence at the end of the current campaign and Distain should give her the chance of a final York winner in tomorrow’s Barkers Garage Stakes – part of the annual family fun day card. Winner of a Redcar maiden on her second start back in May, the daughter of Champs Elysees was not sighted again until finishing second at Chester in July, when she did not enjoy the best of runs in behind winner Chadic. The drop back in trip to 10 furlongs could be the key here.
Champion jockey Richard Hughes is set to saddle his first runner as a trainer at Epsom on Thursday. Hughes retired last month and has entered Castle Talbot, bought on behalf of owner Gerry Dolan for 15,000 guineas in July, in the Pinsent Masons Handicap.