Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe predictions: Westover ticks plenty of boxes
The eyes of the racing world will be fixed on Paris come Sunday afternoon as Longchamp stages Europe's most prestigious race — the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
The mile-and-a-half Group 1 event has been won by some of the biggest names in racing and boasts a first prize of €3,150,000.
It is the centrepiece on a brilliant afternoon of sport from Paris-Longchamp on Sunday and our expert looks ahead to the big race of the weekend.
Trends to note in the Arc
With the huge interest the Arc generates, no stone is left unturned in terms of studying past races in search of clues to future instalments.
Six of the last 10 winners were aged four, while 2019 winner Waldgeist was the only five-year-old to win in that period while Enable (2017), Golden Horn (2015) and Treve (2013) all scored for the Classic generation.
Getting the mile-and-a-half trip is critical as they can get racing from a long way out.
All of the last 10 winners had won over this distance previously, with 2012 winner Solemia the only one not to have scored over the trip at Group 1 level before Longchamp.
Enable (2017 & 2018) is the only market leader to win the Arc in the previous decade, while last year's winner Torquator Tasso was a rank outsider.
The Frankie Factor
With six wins stretching from Lammtarra in 1995 right through until Enable's second win in 2018, Frankie Dettori is unmatched in terms of Arc wins.
The veteran Italian lives for the big occasion and few are bigger than this race in Paris.
Dettori has got the call to partner German runner TORQUATOR TASSO as he defends the crown.
He has got a German Group 2 at Hamburg on his CV this season and was second behind Pyledriver in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot in July on ground far faster than ideal.
Dettori partnered him for the first time at Baden-Baden last month and they were second in the Group 1 Preis von Baden.
With softening conditions in Paris and rain forecast for Sunday, conditions are set to be optimal for last year's surprise winner, though he will not be catching anyone unawares now.
Luxembourg with something to prove
Given that he has never run over this far before, likely market leader Luxembourg has something to prove if he is going to provide master-trainer Aidan O'Brien with a third Arc win.
He was strong through the line in the Irish Champion Stakes last time, holding off re-opposing Onesto by a half-length and connections believe he will stay this trip.
However, until he proves it the question lingers — while plenty in France believe the extra two furlongs will favour Frankel colt Onesto, who was just a half-length behind him in Ireland three weeks ago.
Alpinista strong but Arc prize may go West
Sir Mark Prescott's mare Alpinista has won her last seven starts, five of them at Group 1 level, and is proven at this distance.
Big-race rider Luke Morris suggested this week there are not 'too many chinks in her armour' but, even so, only two five-year-olds have won the Arc in the last 33 years.
With that in mind, WESTOVER is selected to become the 19th three-year-old Arc scorer in 29 renewals.
Ralph Beckett's Frankel colt was an unlucky third in the Epsom Derby, trapped on the running rail before flying home, and he then turned the Irish Derby into a procession at the Curragh soon after in a stylish Group 1 win over this trip.
His only start since came in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot in July where he was far too keen in the early stages and faded once things got serious.
That was three top-level runs in seven weeks and connections have opted to back off since.
He comes here fresh, has won off a layoff and ticks plenty of the stats boxes for a big effort at Longchamp — including soft-ground form, proven stamina and a good draw.
He could rebound in spectacular style if returning rider Rob Hornby can plot a good path.