09/15/2004 12:00AM

Arc Trial a well-matched lot

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Friday's Group 3 Arc Trial at Newbury provides the last chance for British horses to prep for the the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 3.

The 1 3/8-mile Arc Trial has drawn a competitive field of nine, but its two principals, Day Flight and Percussionist, will run only if rain softens up the ground.

A listed winner, Day Flight has not run since finishing fourth in the French Derby on June 6. Percussionist, fourth in the Epsom Derby, was last in the Irish Derby.

Veteran group-race performers Nysaean, Compton Bolter, and Imperial Dancer have had a hard time finding the winner's circle lately, but Sights on Gold, a winner off a 13-month layoff on Aug. 31, could be dangerous.

* Powerscourt, a close third in the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday, has been ruled out of the Arc with a pulled muscle.