Sarafina’s odds as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe favourite shortened slightly after the Aga Khan’s filly did the minimum required in her trial at Longchamp on Sunday.
Unlucky in the big race itself when third a year ago, Alain de Royer-Dupre has trained her specifically for the first Sunday in October and had warned beforehand she would not be spot-on for the Prix Foy.
Sarafina perhaps won her dress rehearsal in the most encouraging of styles, with Christophe Lemaire not hard on his mount to just pull past Japanese raider Hiruno d’Amour at the post – albeit needing to barge his way through a gap.
A stop-start pace gallop by the other Japanese contender, last year’s Arc runner-up Nakayama Festa, was not deemed suitable for either Sarafina or Aidan O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey, the only other runner in the race, who was at the front approaching the final furlong out but weakened for third.
Installed Arc favourite when Derby winner Pour Moi had to be retired, Sarafina was cut to 3-1 by Coral, Ladbrokes and Stan James, and to 7-2 by Betfred.
“She has been very keen before and we wanted to get her to settle better,” said the winning owner, the Aga Khan.
“She would prefer a faster-run race. They went a good pace to begin with but then it slowed. The Arc is always going to be a fast-run race.”
Of St Nicholas Abbey, last seen when third in the King George, O’Brien said: “We’re happy with him. In an ideal world there would have been a stronger pace and he was a bit fresh before.
“This was a trial and we came here with the idea of looking at the Arc. He’s a possible. We’ll go home and digest it now.”
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