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By the end of his second week in France the problems caused by unnecessary mismanagement were gradually disappearing. Carry Back was settling into an orderly routine. In fact, he had never looked so well, nor had he ever been so impressive in his work.
At Chantilly, Carry Back wore his U.S. shoes, but the continual traveling on concrete roads between stable and training area was wearing them down. It now seems likely that after some additional filing to make them virtually fiat (as required on the French turf), Price will not bother to switch to French shoes. Running alone across the vast expanse of the Chantilly gallops, Carry Back amazed several French trainers by going so straight and true. "Usually a horse galloping alone for the first time here," said one trainer, "is so curious that he throws his head all over the place. This horse doesn't." With his long tail flying gracefully along behind him, Carry Back also adapted quickly to running over undulating ground.
The 4-year-old colt got his first look at a French track when officials gave Price special permission to break Carry Back from the webbed barrier and cover 2,100 meters (approximately a mile and five-sixteenths) on the beautiful Chantilly course itself. Neville Sellwood, the brilliant 39-year-old Australian jockey who won this year's Epsom Derby on Larkspur, was riding him. Nobody, of course, knew how he would react to the mechanical barrier or the right-hand turn. When the barrier went up Carry Back reacted perfectly. "He got away quietly and relaxed, and from the first I could see he had lovely action," Sell-wood said later. "We think of a good French horse as one who goes away quietly. We think of U.S. horses as speeding away too fast and using themselves up too quickly. On the turn Carry Back traveled extremely well. I think he's most adaptable. He's lively and full of spirit and seems a genuine little horse. I bet he doesn't know how to run badly."
Four days later, now stabled at Long-champ, Carry Back worked the Arc course itself. This time he was ridden by the other Aussie star, Scobie Breasley, who will handle him in the big race. He ran an unusually fast first mile and then tired noticeably in the stretch.
A field of stayers
For all his good manners, impressive works and enthusiastic rooters. Carry Back has a tremendous task ahead of him. Granted that the opposition is not as powerful as in some recent years, it is still not a field of patsies as Jack Price often tends to picture it. There probably will be Aurelius, who won the 1961 St. Leger and Larkspur, and Surdi and Mexico from Italy. France's Match and Misti both are at home at this distance and Misti was third in last year's Arc. There is a possibility that the good fillies La Sega and Monade may be in there, too. The Arc field may lack a Ribot or even a Ballymoss but it is a field of mile-and-a-half horses. Carry Back has run that distance only once.
Surprisingly enough, whereas most American trainers give Carry Back little or no chance in the Arc, a large number of French trainers definitely do. Francois de Brignac, manager of the Marcel Boussac stable, says, "a horse who wins an American classic at a mile and a quarter should be able to do the same at a mile and a half here. Our pace is slower, and that is the difference."
All Carry Back has to do is win on grass for the first time, win at a mile and a half for the first time, and beat the best horses in Europe while carrying 132 pounds. Can he do it? Jack Price thinks so, of course. "Carry Back by five," he shouts. Carry Back among the first five, is more like it, I would think.