10/01/2003 11:00PM

British set to invade Longchamp


PARIS, France - British invaders have good record at Longchamp on Arc weekend, and Saturday's meeting, which serves as the tablesetter for the Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, should be no exception, with Gateman, Ikhtyar and Ocean Silk all in position for victory.

Last year, Domedriver graduated from the $128,000 Prix Daniel Wildenstein to win the Breeders' Cup Mile, but Saturday's renewal of the Group 2 mile at Longchamp does not appear to contain a strong candidate for the big day at Santa Anita.

That said, any one of three or four of the Wildenstein runners could qualify for a trip to the Breeders' Cup if he can win as convincingly as did Domedriver a year ago.

Dandoun, trained by John Dunlop and one of four British invaders in the ten-runner field, won a similar contest when landing the Group 2 Prix du Muguet at Saint-Cloud on May 1. He was, however, beaten into tenth in Nebraska Tornado's Prix du Moulin over the course and distance.

The Mark Johnston-trained Gateman beat subsequent Group 1 Sussex Stakes winner Reel Buddy in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes in June and was recently the winner of a listed mile at Haydock. He was third to Domedriver in this race last year and may be good enough to take the prize this time around from My Risk, the winner of four of his last five for Jean-Marie Beguigne.

The $110,000 Group 2 Prix Dollar, run at the odd distance of 1 1/8 miles, 155 yards, or about 65 yards short of a mile and a quarter, is an open affair in which another British invader, Ikhtyar, can confirm his long held promise.

A half brother to French 2000 Guineas winner Landseer, the John Gosden-trained 3-year-old was the 6-length winner of a listed race at Sandown in July. Lightly raced, he will relish the good ground that is expected at Longchamp for the weekend.

But Ikhtyar will have his hands full in turning back the challenges of recent winners Carnival Dancer, Imperial Dancer, Nysaean and especially Weightless, who has never been worse than second in five starts for Pascal Bary.

Gosden appears to be in the driver's seat in the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu, a 1 9/16-mile Group 2 contest for fillies and mares.

The ex-Californian will saddle both Ocean Silk and Place Rouge for the $110,000 Royallieu. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Dynaformer, Ocean Silk was a nose second to Spanish Sun in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot before chasing home Islington in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks. Only seventh in Mezzo Soprano's Prix Vermeille, she will enjoy the return to firmish ground and should prevail over Whortleberry and the improving but untested Elie Lellouch trainee, Actrice.

*Sixteen were left in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Thursday's penultimate entry stage. They include the supplemented First Charter, who will serve as a pacesetter for Epsom Derby winner Kris Kin, but do not include the Bright Sky and Ana Marie, both of whom have opted for the Prix de l'Opera for fillies and mares.

Alain de Royer-Dupre has left in Diyapour to act as Dalakhani's rabbit, while Alamshar has been left in by John Oxx but will run only if misfortune befalls Dalakhani before Sunday morning. Both Alamshar and Dalakhani, first and second in the Irish Derby, are owned by the Aga Khan, who does not want them knocking heads again.

With Alamshar, Policy Maker and one of High Chaparral's pacesetters, either Dalcassian or Fontanesi, still likely to be withdrawn, a field of just thirteen could line up for the $1.86 million Arc, for which Dalakhani at 7-4 and High Chaparral at 2-1 remain the favorites.