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It is one of best weekends on the flat racing calendar with a bill of fare to delight the punter and purist alike. Newmarket hosts the totesport Cambridgeshire one of the richest handicaps in both tradition and prize-money and a fiendishly complex puzzle with more plots than an Agatha Christie compendium. At Longchamp on Sunday there are six Group One races topped by the crowning glory of middle-distance races the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere.
This is a super Arc renewal with horses going to post that between them collected the laurels twenty-four times in Group Ones. There is not a back-number in the field. When trying to find an Arc winner it is best to stick to the Classic generation who have won eight of the last ten and the home-team: French trainers have saddled six winners in the last decade.
Two horses with just that profile, Hurricane Run and Shawanda, dominate the betting. Hurricane Run is likely to start favourite. His trainer Andre Fabre is gunning for his sixth Arc and Hurricane Run won the Prix Niel last time out, by far the best trail for the big one. Shawanda represents the fillies, but their record in the Arc is less than sparkling with just two wins in twenty-three years.
Yet, it may be the year to trust in girl power. Shawanda is clearly exceptional and has sauntered to bloodless victories in the Irish Oaks and Prix Vermeille. She travels well and has shown a real turn of foot. That may catch out Hurricane Run who has seemed to need stoking-up in his races. Shawanda is strongly fancied to emulate her father, the mighty Sinndar and win another Arc for the Aga Khan.
That’s the easy bit done. Now for the totesport Cambridgeshire a race won last year by 100/1 shot Spanish Don. There have been big gambles on Ashkal Way and Pedrillo, but a cracking each-way bet is Crosspeace. He had five of Saturday’s field behind him in the John Smith’s Stakes at Newbury, is weighted to reverse form with the fancied Blue Monday and is well-drawn. Crosspeace is a model of consistency having been placed nine times in eleven starts.
Newmarket (Saturday) 3:55 Crosspeace (each-way)
Longchamp (Sunday) 4:30 (GMT) Shawanda (win)