STEEL grey skies are expected over Paris on Sunday and anyone with an interest in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will want to know how much of the wet stuff is dropped on Longchamp as it prepares to stage the race for the first time in three years.
Committed fans of the hot favourite, Enable, may feel entirely sanguine about the prospect. The flashy filly has shown top-class form on fast ground and soft, after all. Let the others worry about ground conditions; she will be fine, whatever happens.
That kind of thinking is entirely understandable when talking about a horse who has not been beaten for 18 months, but it could be misguided just the same. What it overlooks is that a lot of rain will undermine the advantage handed to Enable by the draw for Europe’s most prestigious horse race.
When the ground is good or good to soft at Longchamp, the Arc winner usually comes from one of the six stalls closest to the inside rail. The extra distance the others must cover appears to be a real obstacle in those circumstances. But winners have sometimes come from wider stalls when the going has been soft or heavy, raising a suspicion that those on the inside meet the worst of the ground for the first quarter-mile if it is soggy.
Enable is to start from stall six. Her three main rivals, Waldgeist, Kew Gardens and Sea Of Class, will be imprisoned together in 13, 14 and 15. It is a perfect set-up for the favourite, who will begin the race surrounded by horses priced at 25-1 or bigger. But the 13mm of rain predicted for Paris by one respected forecaster could take that edge from her.
It will be a great race, all the same.