Many commentators are questioning the strength of the Arc – possibly an affronted reaction to a long-priced winner, though Solemia, like Marienbard and Danedream in the past decade was a delicious reminder that the Arc is still a horse race, not some magical repose of equine gods. Both Frankel and Nathaniel switched to Ascot and Champions Day on Saturday week in the UK, a reminder that even the Arc has to compete for the limited high-level horseflesh.
The bar on geldings in the Arc further cost it the participation of France’s favourite horse, Cirrus des Aigles, who walked in with a different race during the meeting. He, too, will likely line up against Frankel to defend his Champion Stakes title. For the Longines Hong Kong International Races in December, few connections around the world therefore have given any real indications.
First they have had to get through the Arc weekend, the souped-up meeting at Ascot and the Breeders’ Cup on November 2 and 3 in Los Angeles.
And that’s not to mention the eastern hemisphere horses, with the Australian spring carnival well under way and moving now into its peak month, culminating with Melbourne Cup week, and the Japanese top liners heading towards the Kyoto Mile Championship and Japan Cup in November.
The schedule for the names we would most want to see here, fit well and competitive two months from now, is so heavily oriented to the end of the year that it’s a miracle that we get a quorum of horses in one piece come December.