Is Japan the Horse to Cause Arc Upset?

Aidan O'Brien pictured speaking to the media at The Curragh. Credit: Breandán Ó hUallacháin.

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe will take place next month, and ahead of the race, the talk will all be about Enable. The super mare is going for her third straight win in the race in what could be the final run of her career. She is currently the favourite, and a worthy one too, but if there is an upset to be had, could it come from one of the Irish youngsters going over to challenge her?

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan has improved at a rapid rate throughout the season, and he has put down form that looks good enough to genuinely give Enable a fright. He clearly needed his first run of the season when finishing down the field in the Dante Stakes, but bounced back well from that to finish third in the Epsom Derby.

Then after that run, we saw him come to life. He went to Royal Ascot and had his sights lowered a little in the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes and made no mistake. He won that race by an impressive four and a half lengths, and it could have been a lot more if needed.

He then travelled over to Longchamp to run in a Group One over the same course and distance as the Arc. This was a wise move from the O’Brien camp, giving him a taste of what French racing is like and also giving him the experience of a trip across the water, something he took in his stride. Although he wasn’t visually as impressive on this occasion, he won by half a length and landed his first Group One.

 This was the Juddmonte International, not only a race against older Group One horses but also a race over 1m2f, when it appears as though he is at his best over 1m4f as staying is his real strength.

Despite those against him he got his head in front once again, beating the hugely talented Crystal Ocean by a head, a very similar margin to what Enable beat the same horse by when they clashed at Ascot, so the form looks rock solid.

As the Arc approaches, it will be very interesting to keep an eye on the racing tips from Betfair. Enable is sure to be hugely popular with both punters and tipsters but there could well be a shock on the cards. The step back up to 1m4f is really going to suit Japan and if he can continue the improvement he has shown so far this season, he is right in the mix to land the Arc.

While the pre-race talk will all be about Enable and her bid to win the race three times in a row, make sure you don’t let Japan slip under the radar as he is a very talented individual who deserves a lot of respect in this field.


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