Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Kaz can dance in rain despite poor Arc draw

Wet, wet, wet: Al Kazeem has bad draw but weather conditions are in his favour for tomorrow's Arc

AL Kazeem is flying the flag for Britain in tomorrow's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – but Roger Charlton's stable star was dealt a cruel blow at the draw when he was handed stall 18.

Statistics show that a single-figure draw increases a runner's chances in Europe's premier middle-distance Flat race, although Orfevre was a close second from the same berth 12 months ago.

Earlier in the season Al Kazeem was the ante-post favourite for the race after Group One wins in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, the Prince of Wales's Stakes and the Eclipse but subsequent defeats at York and Leopardstown mean he is available at an each-way price.

Charlton feels he has been quickly forgotten by punters, however, and recent rain at Longchamp at least means he is likely to have conditions in his favour for the first time in a while.

"There's not much we can do about the draw," said Charlton.

"At least we've had the rain, though I think it will dry to good to soft, so there'll be no excuses on that front, but the draw makes it difficult.

"If he hadn't run at York and if we'd considered Leopardstown as something of his prep race for this he would be much shorter in the betting. On ratings he's classed to be within two to three lengths of the favourites which isn't a lot to make up over a mile and a half but obviously we haven't been helped by the draw.

"I'm optimistic that he'll run very well, but he might need more.

"He was favourite for the race after the Eclipse and people tend to build things up and then get very disappointed when they are beaten. There are reasons why he was beaten at York.

"It's a great race and I'm looking forward to it."

Andrea Wohler's Novellist broke the track record in winning the King George at Ascot and, while some were not impressed with him last time out back home in Germany, his trainer insisted he was using it as a stepping-stone to France.

"He's been absolutely fine since his prep race, which is all that was, and everything has gone well since," said Wohler.

"I would have preferred a single figure draw rather than 12 but it could have been worse, it's not as if he needs to make the running.

"The ground is not a worry to me, he's quite independent on that score, he wins when it is fast and when it is soft but he wouldn't want it too heavy. He's won on all types.

"I wasn't surprised when he won the King George but I was surprised with how he won.

"This is a different race, there are lots of runners and better horses so he will need a bit of luck."

Criquette Head-Maarek insists that stall 15 will be "no problem" for unbeaten filly Treve.

Her chances had already been dealt a blow on Wednesday when Frankie Dettori, retained rider for owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, fractured an ankle at Nottingham, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

Head-Maarek moved swiftly to reunite Thierry Jarnet with Treve so is unconcerned on that score – and believes talk about the importance of a low draw is overplayed.

"The draw is no problem," said the Chantilly trainer.

"At this distance all the talk about the draw is crazy. I could understand it if the race was over a mile at Longchamp but over 2,400 metres? Give me a break.

"My filly needs to be behind horses. The best horse will win, we won't use the draw as an excuse."

Meanwhile, Jim Bolger's Parish Hall got the better of Afonso De Sousa to land the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk last night.

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