FORMER Hong Kong-based international riding star Mick Kinane says a second victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is on the cards, but he's got a bad draw to beat.
'The draw favours the French. All the top foreign horses are drawn wide and in the Arc you are looking for a middle or lower draw,' he said before leaving for Paris.
Kinane, who rode for five seasons in Hong Kong for trainer David Oughton, partners the brilliant Pilsudski in the great race.
The winner of the mid-summer Group One Eclipse Stakes drew barrier 15 in the 18-runner event.
'It's going to make it difficult and I would not advise Hong Kong punters to take too short odds about the horse although I think it is down to three runners.
'It will be a surprise to most of us if the winner doesn't come from Helissio, Pilsudski and Peintre Celebre,' said Kinane.
The Irish ace pointed out that last year's runaway winner Helissio was drawn in the same barrier (five) he jumped from when making all 12 months ago.
'And Peintre Celebre couldn't ask for much better than barrier two. I'm out in the wilds and there's no help for My Emma (14) and Swain (13) who are genuine British challengers,' said Kinane.
But Kinane, who won the European showpiece event in 1989 on Carroll House, retains high hopes that he could cap a major year with a second victory.
'Pilsudski has never been better. The horse is in great shape and he will run his heart out. Given the breaks we will be there and I'm hopeful we will be a lot closer to Helissio than we were last year,' said Kinane, who chased the winner home 12 months ago.
Since the draw, the odds on Pilsudski, a firm joint favourite for the 10 days leading up to the race, slipped out to 100-30, leaving Peintre Celebre the clear favourite at 5-2.
Defending champion Helissio is at 7-2 to become only the third horse in half a century to win the great race in successive years.
He seeks to follow in the footsteps of the mighty Ribot and the brilliant Vincent O'Brien-trained Alleged.
Sha Tin-based Patrick Biancone, who has won the Arc twice, came close to emulating those feats when Sagace, winner in 1984, lost it to Rainbow Quest in the inquiry room a year later having crossed the line in front.
Biancone, whose current stable jockey Eric Legrix rode Sagace when he bumped the Pat Eddery-ridden winner, tips Peintre Celebre to win tonight's race.
'I think he is a very, very good horse,' says Biancone.