09/16/2012 6:59PM

Longchamp: Orfevre sets himself up as Arc favorite


The Japanese horse Orfevre punched his ticket to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while the French horse Moonlight Cloud booked trainer Freddie Head passage back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile during the course of a major day’s racing Sunday at Longchamp.

Orfevre, the 2011 Japanese Triple Crown winner who was making his first start outside Japan, captured the Group 2 Prix Foy while racing for the first time since June. Orfevre beat the solid but unspectacular Meandre by one length after racing at the rear of a five-horse field and making his move at the quarter pole. Orfevre’s pacemaker, Aventino, didn’t help much, setting a slow tempo out front, but Orfevre won comfortably enough in what obviously was a prep race for the colt’s main objective in three weeks’  time. Though the field in the 1 ½-mile Prix Foy presented nothing like the daunting challenge of the Arc, and while jockey Christophe Soumillon suggested afterward that Orfevre would need to improve a few lengths to win the big race, overseas bookmakers generally have installed Orfevre as the Arc’s ante-post favorite.

On the day, another Arc hopeful, Shareta – who finished second at huge odds in the 2011 Arc – turned in a performance at least the equal of Orfevre’s winning the Group 1 Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares. Racing near the lead in the 1 ½-mile Vermeille, Shareta asserted her superiority a furlong from the finish and coasted to a comfortable win, her second from five starts this year. The good going at Longchamp worked in Shareta’s favor, but she appears to be coming into peak form at the right moment again this season, and barring heavy going, will make a return appearance in the Arc. Pirika was second and Solemia third, while well regarded Galikova (5th),  Sagawara (6th), and Princess Highway (7th) failed to threaten.

The Prix Niel for 3-year-olds also probably produced at least one Arc starter, as victorious Saonois is expected to be supplemented into the race. Upset winner of the French Derby in his most recent start, Saonois outfinished Bayrir in the 1 ½-mile Niel, winning by 1 ¼  lengths. The performance from Secretariat Stakes winner Bayrir, though, seemed plenty solid to send the colt on to the Breeders Cup Turf, the stated objective of his connections following his trip to Chicago in August.

Meanwhile, Freddie Head is set to return to the Breeders’ Cup even after the retirement last year of three-time BC Mile winner Goldikova. Moonlight Cloud, bred and owned by George Strawbridge, beat high-class Farhh in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin. The victory was significant because Moonlight Cloud, the filly who came within inches of beating Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes this past summer, has mainly spent her career as a sprinter. The Moulin marked her first victory at one mile, with Head saying afterward he fully intended to point Moonlight Cloud to the BC Mile.


JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Wow! Orfevre ran a great race. And what a trip it was to hear the race called in Japanese. - LOL. It was fabulous. After hearing all I have about Orfevre, it was a thrill to finally see him. He looks very beautiful in full stride in a race. Impressive. He went from last to first in stretch. The ride his jockey gave him reminded me of Calvin Borel's ride on Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby, although this field was much, much smaller. Congratulations to Orfevre. I am now looking forward to seeing this year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Congratulations to Moonlight Cloud and her connections on her win in the Prix du Moulin. Moonlight Cloud is a very nice filly. She showed talent in coming close to Black Caviar, although it must be said Black Caviar had to overcome a whole host of incredible circumstances in the Diamond Jubilee for MC to even get close to beating her. Black Caviar's greatness has never, ever been in question as far as I'm concerned. The Jubilee just further enhanced that greatness. Moonlight Cloud will be a wonderful addition to the Breeders Cup Mile. It's fabulous she showed she is not just a sprinter, that she can stretch out as well. I look forward to having her here in the States to race. Good luck to her in the BC Mile.
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
If Frankel's camp did an about face and chose to run in the Arc.... I know that the horse has nothing to prove. If he won the Arc after not being "pointed" to it ; than he will have a claim to being the best ever. Instead he will go down as a great.
Jonathan Yarde More than 1 year ago
Orfevre beat a small field in a race run at a snail's pace, and he was hard ridden to prevail. If St. Nick was to somehow win, or finish close up in the Arc, how would you then rate Frankel? As for the milers, Moonlight Cloud is way behind Frankel's old punching bag Excelebration, and we know Frankel is much superior to Farhh, so MC being all out to beat Farhh who's probably best at 1 1/4 again speaks to Frankel's greatness. I know it was a long time ago, but I'd urge some of you to go take a look at Frankel's maiden win in which a horse named Nathaniel finished second: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJvKmL_Ti6Y
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
Don't forget that Black Caviar was hurt during the race.
nicola c More than 1 year ago
im liking the brilliant snow fairy for the arc
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Hopefully Moonlight Cloud's victory will allow the skeptics to review Black Caviar's Jubilee triumph as the huge accomplishment it was. Did Black Caviar deliver an all-time performance in the Jubilee? No. But she won. And she did it after shipping across the globe, running in an unfamilar climate and atmosphere and over a new track, while tackling what everyone acknowledges as the best turf horses(Euros) on their home ground. It was a grand sporting gesture on the part of Team Black Caviar, but it presented the mare a daunting challenge. She didn't drop jaws with a display of brilliance, but she got the job done and beat what is now clear to be a quality opponent in Moonlight Cloud among others.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
ITA - Black Caviar is a superior horse, period. She is one of the greatest horses I have ever had the honor to watch. As nice a horse as Moonlight Cloud is, it took all sorts of challenges to be overcome by Black Caviar for Moonlight Cloud to get as close as she did. And Black Caviar still WON the race, despite incredible challenges to overcome. There is no doubting Black Caviar's greatness. She is fabulousness, she is The Queen. BTW - Black Caviar did drop my jaw after that race. That race, in my mind, showed her greatness more than any other previous race. Injury, shipping, having to stop then go at speed at a moment's notice spoke totally of her class and superiority. When you see the reasons why someone is great right before your eyes, that drops your jaw.