/ Racing

Orfevre opens European campaign at Longchamp

Updated: Friday, 14 Sep 2012 17:47 | Comments

Punters will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at Longchamp for Arc clues ahead of the big race on 7 October
Punters will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at Longchamp for Arc clues ahead of the big race on 7 October

Orfevre becomes the latest Japanese star to embark on the route towards the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with an outing in one of the major trials for the race at Longchamp on Sunday.

With the help of his pacemaker Aventino, last year's Japanese Triple Crown winner tackles Andre Fabre's triple Group One winner Meandre in the Prix Foy.

The Far Eastern racing nation have developed a keen interest in attempting to claim Europe's greatest prize, from when El Condor Pasa took the Foy and then finished second in the 1999 Arc.

Others like the legendary Deep Impact and Nakayama Festa have tried and narrowly failed, but hopes are high for the ebullient chestnut Orfevre, who concluded his preparation under big-race rider Christophe Soumillon in a piece of work this week at Chantilly's Les Aigles gallops.

Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said: "Christophe Soumillon said that the horse had more speed and showed better movement than a week before.

"I am sure that Christophe and Orfevre are getting along well together, it's his first time at Longchamp but I hope he can handle it in a good manner."

Soumillon said: "I have watched his past performances and my impression of him has been even improved after the track work. He is definitely a first-class horse.

"Even though our main objective is to win the Arc three weeks later, I want to win the Prix Foy without making too much effort."

Two British raiders, Princess of Wales's Stakes winner Fiorente and Joshua Tree, recently brought across the Channel to land the Prix Kergorlay by Marco Botti, complete the line-up.

Freddie Head's Galikova faces a stiff challenge in her attempt to win the Prix Vermeille for a second year in a row.

A half-sister to her trainer's marvellous Goldikova, Galikova has the beating of recent Yorkshire Oaks winner Shareta and Sarah Lynx on the form from 12 months ago, but entering the equation here is Dermot Weld's Princess Highway, who stormed away with the Ribblesdale Stakes and finished third in the Irish Oaks.

Although Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens was not declared among the 13 runners, there is impressive German Oaks winner Salomina, who represents the trainer of 2011 Arc heroine Danedream in Peter Schiergen and other improving three-year-olds like Yellow And Green and Romantica.

Galikova was ahead of Danedream but behind Meandre and Shareta on her comeback in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and not disgraced on her other run when beaten just a length and a quarter by Snow Fairy in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville.

"It's a very, very good race but I am very happy with her and I am expecting a good run," said Head.

"I think she has come on a bit since the last race, which was a re-entry after a break."

The three-year-old's trial, the Prix Niel, sees Alain de Royer-Dupre's Secretariat Stakes winner Bayrir tackling Andre Fabre's narrow Grand Prix de Paris runner-up Last Train and the highly-rated Kesampour, who lost his unbeaten record in a messy French Derby and has not been seen since.

Kesampour is trained by Mikel Delzangles, who said: "He was a bit sick in July, he had sinus problems, but he has been very well since then and has been working well.

"He's in good condition and I would say that if he runs well on Sunday, then he could go for the Arc."

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