Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 14:20 29/09/2014
Next Sunday sees one of the most fascinating Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe's in many a year with horses from France, Britain, Japan and Germany all fielding strong candidates in an effort to claim Europe's richest race in which a strong case can be made for at least ten potential runners including a home defence headed by Etcot, Avenir Certain and last year's impressive runaway winner Treve.
While all three are capable of making a bold bid for glory based on their best form whether they represent anything in the way of value at current odds is open to question and those looking for a lively outsider in the run up to Sunday's contest could do worse than having an each-way interest in the overlooked Flintshire at the 33-1 available with 888Sport. The son of Dansili looks like being the sole representative of trainer Andre Fabre whose record in the Group 1 of seven victories is easily the best of any trainer in the 91-year history of the great race.
The key to this talented performer is the ground as the four-year-old requires going on the fast side of good to produce his best form and with the weather in Paris forecast to be unseasonably warm in the lead up to the race there is every chance the horse will get his ideal conditions come the weekend. After running out a most impressive winner of the Juddmonte Grand Prix De Paris over the course and distance last July Flintshire was made ante-post favourite for the 2013 Arc but failed to get his ground in both the Prix Niel ( Arc trial ) and the big race itself, finishing a twelve length eighth to Criquette Head-Maarek's super filly.
A good second to the evergreen Cirrus Des Aigles in Epsom's Coronation Cup on his seasonal reappearance Flintshire's jockey Maxime Guyon allowed 2013 Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World to dictate the race when runner-up to that horse in the Prix Foy ( Arc trial ) recently but lost nothing in defeat going down by a length and a half to a good ride from Frankie Dettori on Aidan O'Brien's runner.
There is no doubt Flintshire needs to raise his game to another level if he is to provide his trainer with win number eight in the race but, granted the decent ground he needs, is sure to run up to his best while many of his rivals including Treve and Kingston Hill will be inconvenienced by such conditions. One of the three Japanese challengers, particularly Just A Way, could provide that country with a well-deserved first victory in the race but at the huge price on offer Flintshire looks the early value to give Fabre his first win in the race since Rail Link in 2006.