Hopes of a big crowd to cheer on Enable in next month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe are on the point of being abandoned. Officials in France are expected to announce in the coming days that they have given up on plans to admit 20,000 people at Longchamp on 4 October, when the English star will try to become the first horse to win the race three times.
French racing has fared better than the sport in Britain in its efforts to get spectators back to the track, with up to 5,000 people attending fixtures since early July. That led to hopes, still being expressed in mid-August, that the public might be admitted to Arc day in significant numbers.
Organisers had plans for sealed zones with their own access and facilities at Longchamp in an effort to persuade local authorities that a crowd of such a size could be managed safely. But Paris is once more in a Covid-19 red zone, so gatherings of more than 5,000 are not allowed. While that could yet change before the Arc, officials have reached the point where they feel a decision must be made.
Accordingly, the Arc crowd will be limited to 5,000 people, largely made up of racecourse staff, connections of the runners and media. Owners and breeders will compete for any remaining spaces.
Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien expects to have three runners in the final British Classic of the year, the St Leger a week on Saturday. While plans are not set in stone, the Irishman said on Wednesday he has Santiago, Dawn Patrol and Mythical in mind for the Doncaster race.
Ex-policeman and friends hope to land Sprint Cup glory
Racing’s heaviest hitters tend to dominate the big races and the Betfair Sprint Cup on Saturday is no exception, owners involved including the deputy ruler of Dubai, the dominant Coolmore bloodstock empire and the racing vehicle of the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. But in among them, enjoying his very first taste of the big time, will be a former policeman from Northampton.
Ian Maggs is one of 12 people with a share in Glen Shiel, a Godolphin castoff picked up at the sales last year for £45,000 by the Hambleton Racing syndicate operation. It is beginning to look like a shrewd piece of business, the plucky chestnut having taken them to the winner’s enclosure four times already this year and he is now a 16-1 shot to land Saturday’s £133,000 pot.
“It’s the stuff of dreams,” says the 48-year-old Maggs, who, like so many other racing fans, was introduced to the game by an enthusiastic parent. “My dad, bless him, used to love a Saturday afternoon, doing Lucky 15 bets on the racing and watching it on the telly. Sometimes he’d take me to Lingfield.”
Actually owning horses was not to be thought of, then or for many years after. But Maggs has a bit more disposable income these days, having quit the force after 20 years and built his own business as a financial crime investigator, working for banks. He decided he could stretch to a share in a racer, his first dabble coming in time for his father, now sadly no longer with us, to share in the thrill.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an addiction but you get into it and I’ve been lucky. I think this is my seventh syndicate with Hambleton and all bar two have won a race at some point. I’ve been lucky.
“We’re all very down to earth. I’ve a close friend in a syndicate who’s a builder. One owns a kitchen company. Another guy is a business analyst in the City. We’re not made of money but we share a love of horse racing.”
Wednesday’s best bets
I’m hoping it’ll be another good day in a fine summer for Jonjo O’Neill, who sent out eight winners at a 26% rate from his Cheltenham base last month. His Global Anchor (1.50) ran better than the bare result suggests when 11 lengths behind the winner at Stratford last month on his chasing debut. This better surface may help and he’s attracting interest at 11-2.
Jonjo Jr is aboard another runner in that race but might have better luck later on Dead Right (3.20), who is easing back out to 100-30 after overnight support. He showed plenty of ability in summer jumping last year and, although he has not been seen for some time, Neil Mulholland’s yard has been in form.
Uttoxeter 12.40 Apres Le Deluge 1.15 Jessica Rabbit 1.50 Global Anchor 2.20 Lord Sparky 2.50 Chasamax 3.20 Dead Right 3.50 Perfect Myth 4.25 Translink
Bath 2.00 David's Beauty 2.30 Acquisitor 3.00 Capla Spirit 3.30 Elegant Love 4.00 By My Side 4.35 Sulochana 5.05 Arthalot (nb) 5.40 Toybox
Lingfield 2.10 Melnikova 2.40 Amtiyaz 3.10 Immortal Beloved (nap) 3.40 Asadjumeirah 4.10 Riffaa Wonder 4.45 Redemptive 5.15 Lippy Lady 5.45 Thriller's Moon
Hexham 4.15 Pisgah Pike 4.50 Somethinboutangela 5.25 Melody Of Scotland 6.00 Almost Gold 6.30 For Three 7.00 Agentleman 7.30 Emirat De Catana
Wolverhampton 4.30 Desert Cat 5.00 Fresh Snow 5.35 Lead Singer 6.10 Dubai Elegance 6.45 Dana Forever 7.15 Faisal 7.45 Calm Down 8.15 Chosen Star 8.45 Nikolayeva
The step up to staying distances looked the right move for Arthalot (5.05) last time and he is fairly priced at 7-2 at Bath. The nap, Immortal Beloved (3.10), goes at Lingfield, where she meets older rivals on favourable terms in a staying handicap. She’s 15-8, which is just about fair.