09/08/2017 3:16PM

Ribchester ready to bounce back in Prix du Moulin de Longchamp


There are three prep races Sunday at Chantilly for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but the card’s star attraction, Ribchester, isn’t in any of them.

Ribchester, Europe’s top miler this year, will try to get back on track in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp after taking a shocking loss Aug. 2 at Goodwood, where Here Comes When beat him in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes. Before that race, which was run over soft, testing ground, Ribchester had scored decisive wins in the Group 1 J.T. Lockinge Stakes and the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes. The going at Chantilly on Friday was rated good to soft, and Ribchester stands a good chance of landing his third Group 1 mile of the season.

“I wanted to give him a holiday, but he wouldn’t let me,” trainer Richard Fahey said in a column for the Sporting Life. “He’s absolutely bouncing.”

Perhaps the second-best known name racing Sunday is Cracksman, who is one of just five horses in the Group 2 Prix Niel, which is restricted to 3-year-olds and contested over 1 1/2 miles. Cracksman was third in the Epsom Derby, finished second in the Irish Derby, and won the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes by six lengths last month at York in what probably was the best race of his career. Owner Anthony Oppenheimer and trainer John Gosden considered giving Cracksman the rest of the year off, but Gosden traveled to France to walk the Chantilly course Wednesday and was pleased enough with the conditions that Cracksman will take his shot in the Niel – and perhaps also the Arc next month.

“We’re taking it one race at a time with him,” Gosden told the Racing Post.

While the 3-year-old filly Enable, also trained by Gosden, is the strong Arc favorite, the Group 1 Prix Vermeille has been an Arc bellwether in recent years, and this season’s edition attracted 11 entrants. The race’s lack of star quality is evidenced by Left Hand’s position as the 7-2 favorite as of Friday, despite the fact the filly has gone winless in four starts this year after winning the Vermeille in 2016.

George Strawbridge’s Journey won the QIPCO Champions Filly and Mare Turf to end her 2016 campaign, but enters the Vermeille off two subpar performances this season.

The Group 2 Prix Foy for older horses is led by the Japanese shipper Satono Diamond, whose stablemate Satono Noblesse will serve as his pacemaker. Yasutoshi Ikee trains Satono Diamond, and Ikee nearly won the Arc in 2012 with Orfevre. Satono Diamond might not be as talented as Orfevre, but he is a much more straightforward horse than his mercurial predecessor, Ikee said.

Satono Diamond won the Group 1 Arima Kinen last December to end his 3-year-old campaign and, with the Arc as a goal, has raced only twice this year, most recently finishing third over two miles in the Group 1 Tenno Sho on April 30. The Foy, his connections have made clear, is strictly a stepping-stone to the Arc.

Coming off a similar layoff is Cloth of Stars, who was the best older horse in France this spring but who has not raced since he beat Zarak on May 1 in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. Zarak, among the leading French hopes, is being trained up to the Arc by Alain de Royer-Dupre.