Novellist showed unwavering power inside the last two furlongs to rout the King George VI field in course record time at Ascot recently, but it was not enough to supplant Flintshire (5/1) at the pinnacle of the betting for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in September, so just how good is the current jolly?
Flintshire may have won three of his four career starts to date – finishing in second in his sole non-victorious outing – but it was his most recent triumph that made Arc odds-compilers sit up and take note.
The race in question was the Grand Prix De Paris – known in some quarters as the ‘real’ French Derby – over the Arc course and distance.
The three-year-old moved into contention off a middling gallop a couple of furlongs from home and blasted off with a burst of pace that had jockey Maxime Guyon easing him down in celebration well before the line.
In just his fourth career outing he’d put Epsom Derby fourth and fifth Battle Of Marengo and Ocovango firmly in their places and will head for the Prix Niel next, just as six of his trainer’s seven previous Arc winners have done.
Being a member of the current Classic generation – just as eight of the last 10 Arc winners have been – means he’ll receive a healthy weight-for-age allowance from older hopefuls like Al Kazeem (6/1) or last year’s runner-up Orfevre (7/1).
A boon for his chances in relation to his Fabre teammate Intello (6/1) is the fact that he’s already proven over a mile and a half well within his compass having prevailed easily in his last two runs over the Arc trip.
In contrast Intello has yet to run over further than 1m2f, with a return to 1m in the Prix Jacques le Marois – where he may face Dawn Approach and Toronado – next on the itinerary.
Whilst the quality of the horses he beat last time may only be moderate with the wisdom of hindsight, the main note of caution over Flintshire’s recent victory was the good ground he so hovered over on his way to the laurels.
Soft ground had been present at the scene of his sole defeat to date and could well be a factor come September, although his trainer reportedly suggested that greenness too may have played its part in his failure, which came on just his second start.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.