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Christophe Soumillon comfortable with Arc expectation

Updated: Friday, 05 Oct 2012 14:58 | Comments

Christophe Soumillon is confident ahead of his Arc ride aboard Orfevre
Christophe Soumillon is confident ahead of his Arc ride aboard Orfevre

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Christophe Soumillon is embracing the expectation on his shoulders as he prepares to partner Japanese superstar Orfevre in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

The Belgian-born jockey has won just about every major prize going during a stellar career in France, including two Arc victories on Dalakhani (2003) and the brilliant Zarkava (2008).

But the rider faces a different pressure this weekend as Orfevre's legion of supporters from the Far East anticipate nothing less than another victory from a horse who claimed the Triple Crown in his homeland.

The four-year-old certainly looked the part when winning his warm-up race in the Prix Foy over the Arc course and distance and Soumillon feels his mount has plenty going for him ahead of his date with destiny on Sunday.

However, he will have to overcome the widest draw of all in stall 18.

"You need a real champion to win the Arc, who is efficient over a mile as well as over a mile and a half as you need speed and stamina, and he must be easy to handle," said the jockey.

"He is not a complicated horse. I have watched the races he has won in the past.

"All the Japanese fans would like to see a Japanese horse win the Arc. I hope I can deliver what all the Japanese fans expect.

"I'm not afraid of anyone. I'm a sportsman and it's not good to be afraid."

The last horse the Japanese horse to really capture the public's imagination was, of course, Deep Impact.

"I'm not afraid of anyone. I'm a sportsman and it's not good to be afraid." - Christophe Soumillon

He was extremely heavily backed on the day of the 2006 Arc, but the hot favourite could only finish third and was subsequently disqualified after a banned substance was found in his sample.

Deep Impact was trained by Yasuo Ikee and it is his son Yasutoshi who now aims to go a couple of places better with Orfevre.

"We had the last piece of serious work over six furlongs on the straight turf track in Aigles this morning (Wednesday)," said the trainer.

"He chased another two horses from the start and the rider, Christophe Soumillon, let him go and leave the two horses behind in the last 300m.

"The ground was a bit soft and he sometimes seemed to have a bit of difficulty gripping the ground well.

"I hope he would be able to adjust his running (style) on the track at Longchamp, which might also be soft on Arc day.

"I gave him the most serious (piece of) work he has had in France but I checked him after the track work and found no problem with him.

"I believe he has improved in the last three weeks; running in the Prix Foy has helped him to progress.

"I am aware that a lot of Japanese horseracing fans expect Orfevre to win.

"It is not easy as there are many strong contenders in the Arc field, but I hope he will be able to run well."

Ikee also runs a pacemaker in Aventino.

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