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Matt Chapman reflects on the best and worst of the Arc and looks ahead to Champions Day in his latest column

, Matt Chapman reflects on the best and worst of the Arc and looks ahead to Champions Day in his latest column

SO Enable blew out in the Arc and my selection In Swoop went guttingly close to landing a 20-1 success for this column – but who or what has made it to my latest Good Bad Ugly column?

Let’s find out.


Two horses deserve this spot big time so take a bow Tony Mullins, the trainer of Princess Zoe, and William Haggas, the handler of One Master

Just occasionally a horse turns up who improves out of all recognition and you just wonder how the hell did that happen?!

Princess Zoe, who landed Saturday’s Prix du Cadran at Longchamp, is that horse.  On her arrival from Germany to the Mullins yard, Princess Zoe finished second in a Navan handicap off a mark of just 64.

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Four wins later, her rating had soared to 109 and now she is a Group 1 heroine. Mullins is a tremendous racing character, a man who speaks his mind and is absolute dynamite at a Cheltenham preview night particularly when paired with Davy Russell.

But in many ways he has been left in the wake of Ireland’s champion jumps handler and his brother Willie.

There’s no doubting Tony is confident in his own ability, and he just needs a horse who can run to make a horse run faster. I’m so happy for him, as he’s just one of those blokes you could talk to all afternoon over a pint before he nodded off to sleep!

Haggas has done wonders with One Master, who is a triple Group 1 Prix de la Foret heroine now and is an exciting watch as a horse who likes to come late and fast.

The French racing style absolutely suite her to perfection and considering the way she wins her races she’s clearly outstanding to have won as many as she has. She’s not quite Goldikova, but she’s fantastic.


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When you get touched off in a closish finish you always wonder what could have happened differently.

As I have said, in last week’s column I tipped up In Swoop and I was in bits after his defeat by Sottsass in the Arc on Sunday watched by nearly 1.25m people on ITV which is a super cool viewing figure.

Everything was in place for In Swoop to run huge, in that he was lightly raced and improving but, most importantly, was going to love mud. 

Initially my gut feeling was that if Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy, James Doyle or Ryan Moore has been on my boy he would have won, but to be honest that’s being a bad loser and very harsh on Ronan Thomas.

Ronan might not be the greatest rider ever, but he’s perfectly capable and did nothing wrong.

I suspect off a stronger gallop In Swoop would have won, but that said he was badly drawn on the rail and Sottsass would have enjoyed those tactics as well.  Maybe I’m just a bad loser!


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The ground is not always ugly for the Arc, just as it is not always terrible for Champions Day at Ascot. That said, late September and October you have to expect the worst.

Of course, the Arc has been where it is in the calendar for a long time, having been first run in 1920. But the climate is very different now than it was then.

I can’t help but feel these championship events would be better placed in late August/early September, which would mean a total overhaul of the Pattern.

It appears no one is keen to take on that project, but they are going to have to do so at some point.

There is a reason why the Breeders’ Cup has for many been the end of season championships of the world, and that is when it’s run in sunny climates – in other words Santa Anita and Del Mar, rather than Keeneland which is the host this time around as the ground can get desperate there – the racing surface is often perfect.

People will tell you good horses go in any ground. But we all know that’s a nonsense. It’s pointless trying to have championship events in a bog.

Very few champions of the turf have been mudlovers. That’s because most are bred for a decent surface.

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