Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

So You Think in Arc bid

Having lost one of their headline acts, the authors of the new Qipco Champions Day must now decide whether to pray for a reprieve - or to absorb a valuable lesson.



They can, after all, still cling to the hope that testing conditions in Paris a fortnight on Sunday might cause So You Think to miss the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and switch to Ascot 13 days later.

Aidan O'Brien, his trainer, yesterday made the horse's next target contingent on “reasonable ground conditions”. Otherwise, however, its organisers must recognise that the new Ascot meeting — at least as currently scheduled — culpably misplaces the shape and purpose of the elite international calendar.

So You Think would have been hot favourite for the most valuable prize ever offered on the British Turf, but O'Brien's patrons at Coolmore have acknowledged that they are required, quite literally, to seek new frontiers.

Their Australian import has already spent most of the season measuring himself against the best in Europe over 10 furlongs, and the reputation he takes into his next career, at stud, would be greatly enhanced by success at Longchamp, over a different trip against different rivals.

And that would apply still more obviously to the ultimate challenge, which may yet await, of beating the best American horses in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

In its previous home, at Newmarket, the Champion Stakes always suffered from a mid-October slot that tended to rule out runners from both the Arc and the Breeders' Cup. For now, everyone must be grateful that connections of Frankel have somehow allowed his entire post-July campaign to be shrivelled into the other big race on the card, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

It is conceivable that an excellent meeting at Newbury may volunteer one new candidate for the vacancy left by So You Think. Dubai Prince makes his debut for Godolphin, having suffered a hairline fracture of the pelvis in April.

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