By Nicholas Godfrey
France: Popular globe-trotting mare Deirdre looks set to fly the Japanese flag on her own at Paris in the autumn as she is the sole Japanese-trained horse to feature among 80 initial entries for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 4.
The first entry stage for the Arc has been delayed six weeks owing to coronavirus, with the initial fee cut to €5,000 from €8,300.
Headed by dual winner Enable, whose season revolves around an attempt to regain her crown at ParisLongchamp, a total of 48 overseas horses have been entered for Europe’s greatest race.
However, they do not include Japan’s superstar mare Almond Eye, second favourite in some ante-post lists, nor the nation’s dual Classic winner Contrail, who stays at home in a bid to complete the Triple Crown.
After a series of frustrating near-misses, the race known as the ‘Gaisenmon-sho’ has become something of a holy grail to the Japanese racing community. Four times Japanese horses have finished second – El Condor Pasa (1999), Nakayama Festa (2010) and Orfevre (2012, 2013).
In this coronavirus-blighted season, with Deirdre based in Newmarket ready for the European summer, not a single horse currently based in Japan features among the Arc entries, although there is a €72,000 supplementary entry stage on September 30 should the global situation change.
Arc favourite all round is dual winner Enable, who is due to make her seasonal debut on July 5 in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. The race is also set to feature fellow Arc entries Ghaiyyath and Deirdre.
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