Qatar Prix Vermeille (Group 1) | 3yo+ fillies & mares | 1m4f | SKY
It is not impossible that a genuine Arc candidate could emerge from the day's most richly-endowed event, but the 2019 edition of the Prix Vermeille looks one to savour on its own merits.
John Gosden fields a pair of Oaks winners in Anapurna (Epsom) and Star Catcher (Curragh), while Aidan O'Brien sends Fleeting and Pink Dogwood, who were placed in those two Classics.
Add in Prix de Diane Longines heroine Channel and this looks well up to scratch.
Dettori found it hard to choose
It says plenty about Gosden's riches in this division that he boasts the two highest-rated fillies in the race, while still being able to leave the likes of Enbihaar, Mehdaayih and Terebellum at home to keep the mighty Enable company.
The handicapper rates Anapurna's Investec Oaks success 3lb superior to that of Star Catcher in the Kerrygold Irish Oaks but Frankie Dettori has opted for the second-named, leaving Oisin Murphy to pick up something of a deluxe spare.
"Frankie had a difficult choice to make as there is not much between the two fillies and it's not often you have to pick between two Oaks winners," said Gosden. "This has been the plan for Star Catcher ever since she won at the Curragh and she has worked nicely since.
"We had a look at the Yorkshire Oaks with Anapurna but decided to wait for this. She has been pleasing at home but I think the ground will be quick enough for both fillies."
O'Brien hoping for reversal of fortune
Fleeting and Pink Dogwood might both be Classic winners by now but for the strength of the Clarehaven fillies this season.
They filled the places in the Epsom and Curragh versions of the Oaks, with Fleeting reversing the placings with her stablemate in Ireland after being ridden more prominently than when coming from near last to be third to Anapurna.
Wayne Lordan takes the ride on Fleeting, who found trouble in running on her trip to Arlington Park last month, while Christophe Soumillon gets the call aboard Pink Dogwood.
Aidan O'Brien said of the pair: "Pink Dogwood has had a break since the Irish Oaks and is ready to start back. We're very happy with her. Fleeting stumbled and found herself too far back in the Beverly D last time. She's in good form."
What the rest say
Andre Fabre, trainer of Ligne D’Or, Musis Amica and Tamniah
Musis Amica was disappointing at Deauville but she had a small respiratory problem, an allergy, that restricted her breathing. Now she is doing well but her best form is on soft ground, which will not be the case here. This is a rehearsal for the Prix Royallieu over Arc weekend. Tamniah has a pretty weak rating but she is a progressive filly and she is in very good shape. She has avoided having very hard races and I think she has a good chance. Ligne D'Or is probably running for a place, but I’m expecting a good run from her.
Francis Graffard, trainer of Channel
On paper she should stay 2,400 metres [a mile and a half] but now she has to prove it. Physically she looks great to me and I didn't want to pass up the opportunity, as there was nothing before the Prix de l'Opera for her. All the best fillies are there, bar of course the other filly trained by Monsieur Gosden, and we approach the race with humility. She is well drawn and I hope she can run up to her best and then we will see where she sits among the best in Europe.
Carlos Laffon-Parias, trainer of Villa Marina
Her dam had a lot of stamina so I don't doubt she will stay the trip. The problem is that it's a really hot Prix Vermeille. I think she has progressed from her win at Deauville but it looks a very tough race and it's been a while since we've had a Vermeille as good as this.
Entered in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe: Ligne D'Or, Musis Amica, Pink Dogwood.
Would need supplementing for the Arc: Channel, Villa Marina, Tamniah, Anapurna, Fleeting, Star Catcher