Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

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Drawn to the Arc

Or: Down but not quite out in Paris

Qatar girls putting on the style 

I’d been racing in France before; at Cagnes-Sur-Mer and Chantilly. But that was more than 20 years ago when Pat Eddery rode the winner of the French Derby – Sanglamore – in the now topical Khalid Abdulla colours. I don’t remember much about Chantilly in 1990 other than the beautiful setting and the lunch at the track being exceptionally good.

The Arc had been on my list of events to attend for a very long time. Despite horse racing for over 40 years I just had never got around to going.

Before the Friday journey to Paris I stayed overnight in London. This was a stroke of luck because it happened to coincide with the LRC Arc preview. The panel included the excellent race analyst Steve Mellish and the international expert Adrian Beaumont. Steve was strong on Sea Moon and Yellow And Green in the big race. I was already double-handed at this stage with bets struck on trial winner Shareta as well as Bayrir at an enormous price (120.0) before he was supplemented.

And all this was before the impact of the draw could be considered. The draw took place on Friday morning and led to a line through Sea Moon (drawn 16) and an each-way investment at 33/1 on Yellow And Green (drawn 3). I also backed Saonois (drawn 2).  Shareta (11) and Bayrir (14) were potentially inconvenienced by the luck of the draw. What is all this draw talk?  As you might know from my blog I am a big advocate of the impact of the draw at certain UK tracks. The Arc though is a massive draw factor race too. Here is the winner’s draw for the previous ten runnings: 2-8-6-1-6-4-6-5-14-3. So eight of the last ten winners were drawn six or lower. A stat not to be dismissed lightly.

Next it was the tube to St Pancras for the Eurostar to Paris. I had booked a package with Horse Racing Abroad (HRA) which made the trip easier as I was travelling alone. Their representative picked us up at Gare du Nord and took us to our hotel – a few miles outside the centre of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine. I was staying at Hotel De La Jatte a decent enough place given the package price not least for the excellent free wi-fi available throughout the hotel. Those artistic punters amongst you will probably know about this area. If not, when I tell you the restaurant of my choice that evening was in Boulevard Georges Seurat it will provide a massive clue: one of Georges' most famous paintings is “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”.

The restaurant in question was La Guinguette de Neuilly. Unfortunately we were in an expensive suburb and a two-course meal with a couple of glasses of wine would not leave you much change from 50 euro. The scallops and the Chablis were top class though.

On Saturday a HRA coach took us to Longchamp for the supporting seven-race card featuring four Group Twos. Not only does HRA have its own car park they also have their own grandstand with reserved seating. This has everything you need from complementary Racing Posts to luxury dining rooms. The lager and baguettes weren't bad either!

The persistent rain had quickly turned the ground to heavy. The highlight of Saturday’s racing was the winning re-appearance of Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix Dollar. I'd backed Hunter’s Light each-way at 10/1 and this was the closest I got to a winner, as I watched it beaten nine lengths into second place. The French winner would later be my chunky each-way ante-post play in the Champion Stakes in the belief that the great Frankel would side step the heavy ground. Some hope!

I’d managed to drop a right few quid at the track but on return to the hotel I discovered that all was not lost. That morning I had played one race at Ascot – the 7f handicap – a low draw forecast combination which had obliged when 6/1 beat 16/1 for a 98/1 dividend. Day’s losses limited.

On Saturday night five HRA guests from the Newmarket area kindly asked me to join them for dinner. Their chosen restaurant was the one I’d been to the night before but that didn’t concern me given the excellent cuisine.

On return to the hotel that night I decided to review my bets in the Arc. Four selections: drawn 2, 3, 11, and 14. But what of the other runners drawn six and under? Those drawn one and four were 150/1 shots. Camelot was drawn five – but too short a price now to be of interest to me. Solemia, a soft ground specialist, was drawn six and had been nibbled at 33/1 on Oddschecker. No betfair access in France but betdaq was available so I had a few quid on Solemia at 64.0 with betdaq to take my Arc portfolio to five runners.

Off to the track again Sunday in the HRA coach.  The sun was out and it was a beautiful day for the big occasion. A mammoth card with eight races to tackle.

Other than the Arc I was particularly interested in the Prix de L’Abbaye which is run over just short of five furlongs. This too is a draw race where it is favourable to be drawn close to the inside rail (low). In the morning I backed the mudlark Mayson at 5/1 (drawn one) and Hamish McGonagall at 14/1 ew (drawn two). A furlong out these two looked like they would fight out the finish but both were collard by Wizz Kid, who edged out 3/1 favourite Mayson by a neck with Hamish in third.  What amazed me about this race is you can’t see it from the stands! It’s just too far away.

Things were to get no better as I drew a blank in the next three races. Then it was the big one.

Frankie looked relaxed going down on 2/1 favourite Camelot

When Orfevre quickened clear inside the final furlong, everything was looking pear-shaped. Each-way selection not sighted and here was the horse drawn 18 of 18 about to trot up and smash a great big hole in my draw strategy! And then the Japanese horse idled close home and suddenly Solemia was getting up in the last strides! The winner was my fifth choice in the race but the betdaq returns were very welcome. Yellow And Green wasn’t far away either – unfortunately finishing a close fifth at 14/1.

Olivier Peslier returns triumphant on 33/1 Solemia

No joy in the final two races so it turned out to be a losing weekend overall. However the Ascot forecast and the small bet on the Arc winner had meant it wasn’t a complete disaster. And the Arc, so long a target on the to do list, had proved a magical occasion in the Paris sunshine.

October 2012 

 Father and son with Pedro The Great - one of my many losers!