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A case of quantity over quality? A look at Japan’s Arc chances

| 03.10.2014

El Condor Pasa, Deep Impact, Nakayama Festa, Orfevre; it reads like a horror story to Japanese racing fans.

So often in the last 15 years the Asian nation has looked on course to finally bag an Arc, yet have seen their charges denied by the narrowest of margins.

But this year, there is a renewed optimism that this is finally the year that the land of the rising sun takes the biggest flat race in Europe.

With three runners all rated 10/1 shots or shorter, you can understand why the Japanese fans are excited, but is it a case of quantity over quality?

Ladbrokes News’ Ben Stones casts his eye over their three raiders…

Just a Way – 6/1

On ratings, Naosuke Sugai’s colt is the best in the world, but that is far from the full picture.

Yes, he has some class form in the book. A 4l victory over subsequent Dubai Sheema Classic victor Gentildonna and a 6l thrashing of double G1 hero Vercingetorix certainly reads well, but when you consider they were at 9f and 10f respectively, a closer inspection is needed.

On only two occasions has he been tried at further than 1m2f, both times well beaten; firstly finishing 11th in the Japanese Derby, before a 4l fifth-place in the Group 3 Kyoto Kinen Stakes last year.

By the looks of it the 1m2f trip is his optimum, but his poor showings when he has gone beyond that put us off him at the prices.

Harp Star – 7/1

Perhaps the best value of the Asian trio, this daughter of 2006 Arc third Deep Impact (he was subsequently disqualified), gets the well documented three-year-old filly weight allowance.

Like Just A Way she has yet to prove she truly gets the 1m4f Arc trip, but did go some way to hinting that it shouldn’t be a problem when a fast finishing second on her sole try over the distance.

As long as she does put her best hoof forward on the big day, she could be one of a number of fillies filling the first few home.

However, she also has a question to answer that puts us off backing her. All six of her races have come on firm ground, and with the surface in Paris described as ‘good’, unusually for the usually easy-going Longchamp track, the ability to cope with give underfoot is necessary here.

Gold Ship – 10/1

This hooded grey can lose races before they have really got going when he’s not feeling it, having failed to show enthusiasm in the early stages on a number of occasions.

Get him interested, and he’s good, but get too far back in a race like the Arc and it can be tricky to peg them back.

He is however, a proven stayer. A Group 1 victor at distances ranging from 1m1f to 1m7f, it is not stamina that will be his downfall in France.

But as a five-year-old horse, he will have to give 10lbs to the likes of Harp Star, Taghrooda and Avenir Certain.

And with the questions over how genuine he is, he is simply unbackable at the prices.


While this is undoubtedly the strongest raiding party that have travelled from the Far East for some years, each of their representatives have big questions to answer one way or another.

Force to pick one to back, and one would be inclined to lean towards Harp Star, but with some very classy European colts and fillies set to line up, it may be wiser to look closer to home for the Arc winner.

We suspect it could be a case of déjà vu for the throngs of Japanese fans that descend on the Paris track on Sunday.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.