Summer & Natalma
Jockey Club Derby
Prince of Wales Stakes
Japan has long had the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe as a main aim, but the wait goes on for them to finally land the race. You go back to 2012, and still wonder just how they have not won the race with the great Orfevre, who had kicked clear up the straight only to be reeled in late by Solemia. Orfevre's jockey Christophe Soumillon to this day, can still not believe how he did not win that race. But the wait goes on for the Japanese, as each year they look to find a horse that can go over and win Europe's key race.
So could 2020 finally be the year for the Japanese as their star horse Almond Eye has now returned to full training? At present, Almond Eye is the general second favourite for the race in the ante-post markets at bet365, behind two-time winner Enable. Could the horse also make an appearance at Royal Ascot if the meeting gets the go ahead? Enable has surprisingly been kept in training and will go in search of a record-breaking third Arc, following her near miss last year, when finishing second behind French winner Waldgeist. That winner has now been retired following a career best in winning the race.
Almond Eye was being aimed at a return to Dubai, before the meeting was called off due to the current coronavirus pandemic. This meant a change of plan for the horse, who had travelled over last year and produced a breath-taking display to win the Dubai Turf by just over a length. This was following travelling ominously well throughout and putting the race to bed in a matter of strides to win comfortably.
This performance was one that stamped the horse as very special and a real contender for future success in the Arc. However, following this success, Almond Eye has been beaten in two of her three starts, that includes her running no race last time out, when being beaten by 11 lengths in the Grade One Arima Kinen in Nakayama. Prior to this, she had ran a career best RPR of 121 in winning the Grade One Tenno Sho in Tokyo by three lengths.
It is clear that if she brings her A game, then she could take a lot of beating in the Arc. It now all sets up for a fascinating clash of the females, as Enable and Almond Eye dominate the betting for Europe's biggest race. October cannot come soon enough and let's hope that the current pandemic has passed and the race can take place.
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