Orfevre, Camelot top field for Arc de Triomphe
PARIS (AP) - Japan's Triple Crown winner Orfevre will have to overcome a difficult post position and 17 rivals to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
Orfevre and Camelot are the favorites for Europe's most prestigious flat track race, but the 4-year-old colt from Japan drew the far outside No. 18 post.
The last horse to win the Arc from a double-digit post was Dalakhani in 2003, which is good news for Camelot, who starts from the No. 5 post with three-time Arc winner Frankie Dettori aboard.
Orfevre comes into the race off a win in last month's Prix Foy over the same Longchamp turf.
The run-up to the race took several surprising turns during the week.
Last year's winner and course record-holder Danedream was withdrawn when her owner's stable in Germany was placed into quarantine due to an outbreak of an equine infection. On Wednesday, Camelot was entered, while other British contenders Nathaniel and Snow Fairy were withdrawn.
Danedream's winning time of 2:24.29 for the 2,400-meter Arc broke the record set by Peintre Celebre in 1997.
Camelot won the first two legs of the English Triple Crown, but the 3-year-old's bid for the rare sweep ended three weeks ago with a loss to Encke in the St. Leger. Earlier, Camelot won the 2,000 Guineas and the English Derby.
Dettori will be riding in his 25th straight Arc, and gained the ride aboard Camelot after regular rider Joseph O'Brien - son of the horse's trainer Aidan O'Brien - was unable to make the required weight.
"He looks to be tremendously well balanced. He came into his own in the Derby when he ran over a mile and a half,'' the 41-year-old Dettori told Racing UK. "He spread-eagled the field and was mighty impressive ... The Arc will be his absolute cup of tea.''
Dettori won the Arc with Lammtarra in 1995), Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard in 2002.
Other contenders include St Nicholas Abbey, who ran fifth in last year's Arc and was third in the Irish Champion Stakes in his most recent race, and 4-year-old filly Shareta, last year's Arc runner-up and winner of her last two starts, most recently the Prix Vermeille
"This year we decided to have two races before the big race,'' said Alain de Royer-Dupre, who also trained Dalakhani. "Shareta is a strong filly and she can accept everything. It is very interesting to have a filly like that in a big race.''
Solemia, third in the Prix Vermille, could be a horse to watch. The 4-year-old filly leaves from the No. 6 post, the spot that has produced three of the last seven Arc winners.
The field, from the rail out is Haya Landa, Saonois, Yellow And Green, Ernest Hemingway, Camelot, Solemia, Great Heavens, Aventino, Mikhail Glinka, St Nicholas Abbey, Shareta, Robin Hood, Meandre, Bayrir, Kesampour, Sea Moon, Masterstroke and Orfevre.
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