By Jon Lees
France: Sottsass, France’s leading Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender, could use the G1 Irish Champion Stakes as his prep race for his number one goal, the ParisLongchamp end-of-season showpiece.
Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget confirmed on Thursday that last year’s Arc third would miss the Juddmonte International at York to have his next start in the G3 Prix Gontaut-Biron at Deauville on August 15.
Among other warm-up options to get Sottsass to the start on October 4, Rouget said Leopardstown’s September 12 highlight was more likely to enhance his stallion appeal. Rouget won the 1m2f prize with Almanzor in 2016.
“After the Gontaut-Biron, Sottsass will have one more race before the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe,” said Rouget. “Sottsass will then have several options – either the Prix Foy or, if we stay over 2,000m, the Irish Champion Stakes.
“The latter test would be more rewarding for his future stallion career, but I am not the only deciding voice, there are also his connections – Peter Brant and Coolmore. We will discuss after the Gontaut-Biron.”
Having been beaten at odds-on on his first start of the year in May, Sottsass regained the winning thread in the G1 Prix Ganay, beating Way To Paris by a head. He is now being kept ticking over in Deauville ahead of his next start, exercising again on Thursday.
“He did a simple work, as we are accustomed to do,” said the trainer. “The goal is not to have a hard work; once they have made their seasonal bow, we do maintenance work.
“They worked over 1,800m and went well. The horse has a good action and he behaves as he does when he is in good form.
“After the Ganay, we left him alone for three weeks. His work picked up for a comeback in mid-August. We didn’t know if he would go to York or Deauville, but he still had a fairly long break and the York race would be difficult for a semi-return to racing.”