Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe: Out of form Workforce facing up to crossroads
Connections of Workforce have long reserved the right to keep prevaricating until this morning.
All being well, however, it has generally been assumed that the Derby winner would ultimately take his chance in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
Then, yesterday, Betfair punters suddenly allowed a colt quoted as short as 5-1 by bookmakers to trade at 14-1.
Admittedly they did so only for a while, and not to any great stakes, but he was still available at nearly 8-1 last night. There is a plain lack of conviction behind a colt who stands at a crossroads, his career to date comprising two breathtaking runs, and two very forgettable ones.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khaled Abdullah, confirmed that Sir Michael Stoute would only give Workforce “a blow-out, nothing major” this morning before they reach a final decision.
One factor may well be the deteriorating conditions in Paris. After his defeat at York in May it was suggested that Workforce might prefer easier conditions, but the fact remains that he has only ever run on a fast surface. With the going already soft at Longchamp, and plenty of rain expected in the meantime, this could become a pretty brutish test.
Aidan O'Brien has expressed due concern for both Fame And Glory and Cape Blanco. Apart from Workforce, the only animals crossing the Channel are the remarkable Youmzain, already three times a runner-up in the race, Duncan and Cavalryman.
All in all, the race will be struggling to capture the imagination of punters making the annual pilgrimage to Paris. A downbeat timbre was compounded yesterday by news that Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year in the United States, has been retired.
On home soil, meanwhile, poor scopes ruled out Memory (Cheveley Park Stakes) and Markab (Prix de l'Abbaye) from important assignments tomorrow and on Sunday respectively.
It was a good day, however, for Richard Hughes, whose unanswered treble at Salisbury cut Paul Hanagan's lead in the title race to 10.