Verry Elleegant could miss Arc
New Zealand-bred 11-time Group One winner Verry Elleegant is in danger of not making the 20-strong Gr.1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2400m) field at Longchamp on Sunday.
A total of 27 horses remains in Arc contention after the first forfeit stage elapsed on Monday and should Verry Elleegant’s connections pay the €120,000 late entry fee ahead of Wednesday’s supplementary deadline, that number will rise to 28.
Verry Elleegant arrived in France with a rating of 120, however, France Galop’s handicapping team with the benefit of assessing Verry Elleegant’s two French defeats have assigned her with a rating of 113.
Verry Elleegant’s French adventure under Chantilly-based trainer Francis Graffard started by finishing last of seven in the Gr.1 Prix Jean Romanet (2000m) at Deauville on August 21 before running third in the Gr.2 Prix Foy (2400m) at Longchamp on September 12.
Australian-based jockey Mark Zahra is set to reunite with the mare having won the Gr.1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) two years ago.
France Galop officials on Monday confirmed that given the demand for an Arc berth that the field limit may increase.
“The limit is 20 but the question of whether we would go above that is currently being studied, with all the implications that such a decision would carry," France Galop's deputy chief executive Henri Pouret told Racing Post.
"We are waiting to see what the first forfeit stage brings and then, depending on how the forfeits progress this week, we will come to a conclusion.”
An extra layer of complication for France Galop is that their popular exotic bet type, the Quinte, does not support fields greater than 20. Prior to the creation of the Quinte in 1989, the Arc field regularly exceeded 20 starters.
Kiwis set to fly in Turnbull
Trainer Danny O’Brien is set to have a two-pronged attack in the Gr.1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday courtesy of New Zealand-breds Inspirational Girl and Young Werther.
Inspirational Girl finished runner-up first-up behind compatriot Mr Brightside in the Gr.2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at The Valley earlier this month and he has been pleased with her progress since that run.
"She's come on really well and getting her to Flemington and 2000m is ideal for her," O'Brien told Racing.com.
"She has got plenty of residual fitness, so I have no problem with her running over 2000m second -up."
The daughter of Reliable Man is on a path towards the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) next month and O’Brien believes the Bob Peters-owned mare has the class to add another elite-level victory to her record.
"She's a classy mare. She's a Group One winner and she's got a lot going for her in the Turnbull," he said.
Inspirational Girl has had a decorated career on the track to date, winning 10 of her 18 starts, including the Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1600m), Gr.3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m), and defeating Zaaki in the Gr.2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in autumn.
She was purchased by bloodstock agent John Chalmers out of Jamieson Park’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale for $190,000.
O’Brien is also set to line-up Young Werther after his satisfactory first-up run over 1700m at Flemington earlier this month.
Last year, Young Werther finished second in the Turnbull Stakes to Incentivise when he was second-up, but O'Brien pointed out that this time he is coming off a year's break.
"He had a year off and he had 61 kilos. He ran well in the same race last year before he went to the Turnbull. We're happy with where he is at," he said.
"Last year he was coming off a much shorter break as he had run in the Australian Derby (Gr.1, 2400m). This time, he had the whole year off this year, so there's definitely more improvement in him to come.
“We will see what happens after the Turnbull, but he'll probably run in the Moonee Valley Cup (Gr.2, 2500m).”
Young Werther was purchased out of Cambridge Stud’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft by O’Brien, in partnership with Aquis Farm, for $140,000.
Benaud out of Metrop
A treatment mistake has ruled Benaud out of the Gr.1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer John O’Shea informed stewards on Monday morning that the gelding was mistakenly given medication which contained a prohibited substance.
“Trainer Mr John O’Shea has this morning informed Racing NSW Stewards that Benaud, which was being aimed at The Metropolitan, will not be declared as an acceptor in this race,” a Racing NSW stewards statement read.
“Mr O’Shea has informed Stewards that Benaud was inadvertently treated with a medication this morning containing a prohibited substance and therefore is unable to compete in the event.”
Out of broodmare gem Baggy Green, the Reliable Man four-year-old had returned in good form this spring after finishing runner-up in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) earlier this year.
He posted a sixth placing in the Gr.1 Winx Stakes (1400m) first-up before jockey William Pike guided him to fourth in the Gr.2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), and runner-up in the Gr.3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).
While he will be unable to compete, his half-brother No Compromise will attempt to bring home the silverware for the family.
Trained by Chris Waller, the Pins six-year-old finished third in the Gr.2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) two starts back before running sixth in the Gr.3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).