10/02/2003 11:00PM

Ange Gabriel looks to pull off upset

Email

PARIS - Ange Gabriel could use Sunday's $1.87 million to announce his largely unheralded talent to the world with an upset over Dalakhani and High Chaparral at Longchamp.

Trained by Eric Libaud, Ange Gabriel is a son of Kaldounevees and has six victories in his last seven starts. He has beaten up on the likes of Sulamani and Aquarelliste, while taking the last two runnings of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud as well as the Hong Kong Vase. With rain on Wednesday morning and Thursday night expected to leave Longchamp's slow-drying course no better than soft on Sunday, Ange Gabriel and his rider, Thierry Jarnet, may have an advantage over their more fancied rivals.

Not that Dalakhani is a slouch in off going. He won the Criterium International last November on heavy ground, and captured the Prix Lupin on good to soft. Nevertheless, the French Derby winner, who was pressed by Doyen to win his course and distance Prix Niel prep, probably prefers good ground and will be facing older horses for the first time.

Moreover, there is little value in Dalakhani's pinched 7-4 (1.75-1) price, even with Belgian hotshot Christophe Soumillon in the saddle.

High Chaparral has done everything right in his abbreviated 4-year-old campaign. Sidelined with a shoulder problem throughout the spring and much of the summer, he turned back the challenge of Falbrav in a controversial running of the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 6 in just his second start of the season.

Third behind Marienbard and Sulamani in last year's Arc, High Chaparral has been brought up to this year's testing 1 1/2 miles perfectly by Aidan O'Brien, who will give Michael Kinane a leg up.

There are five others who deserve serious consideration in a field of 14 that is devoid of fillies and mares for the first time since 1938. Of those, the most dangerous may be the gallant Irish stayer Vinnie Roe.

Trained by Dermot Weld to three consecutive victories in the Irish St. Leger, at about 1 3/4 miles, Vinnie Roe, a 5-year-old son of Definite Article, was the four-length winner of a listed race while carrying 141 pounds the last time he ran on soft ground. The going will turn this year's Arc into a staying race, something that should play into Vinnie Roe's hands.

Doyen is Andre Fabre's hope for a sixth Arc trophy. The threat of the improving, lightly raced son of Sadler's Wells looms large with the services of Frankie Dettori, who is seeking his third straight Arc title and fourth overall.

The Andreas Schutz-trained Dai Jin, a son of 1997 Arc winner Peintre Celebre, will be ridden by "Peintre's" jockey, Olivier Peslier, who said that his mount is the very image of his sire. Dai Jin took the German Derby on soft ground, but displayed petulance when being ridden by Peslier more than a mile from home when coming from last to first to take the Group 1 Credit Suisse Private Banking Pokal last time.

Mubtaker, a 6-year-old son of Silver Hawk trained by Marcus Tregoning, will be making his long-awaited debut in Group 1 competition. He has won four in a row, including a five-length thrashing of First Charter in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 3 September Stakes last time. He would, however, prefer good ground.

First Charter was supplemented by owner Saeed Suhail for $70,000 to serve as a rabbit for his Michael Stoute-trained stablemate Kris Kin. The winner of the Epsom Derby, Kris Kin has disappointed since then in Alamshar's King George and Dalakhani's Prix Niel, and would certainly prefer faster ground.

With the Aga Khan having withdrawn Alamshar in favor of a trip to Woodbine for the Canadian International and Sulamani having taken an American detour, this year's Arc is missing two of its best candidates. The winner, however, will still have to beat a field that ranks in the upper 50 percentile of this historic race.