At the turn into the home straight proper with just over two furlongs to go, the Arc looked done and dusted. Enable had got into her trademark stalking position and, with a superior cruising speed, had angled out with minimum effort.
By contrast whilst Sea of Class was still travelling equally well, there was at least eight lengths between them and a multitude of horses. James Doyle on Sea of Class had elected to drop out from his wide draw and ride for luck, of which he would need a considerable helping with no cut away to assist.
Richard Hughes once told me in an interview about riding a hold-up horse on the all weather that it was better to sit further back in the field so you could see a passage through rather than risk a check that would cost momentum and the extra energy required to regain it.
Doyle’s ride reminded me very much of that tactic. Whenever you finish fast and fail to win, the knives are out, just ask Yutaka Take who still bears the scars of White Muzzle in the eyes of European racegoers.
Doyle, however, was able to pick his way through the field with such aplomb partly because he could see a path that would have been far less obvious and hence less attainable if he had sat closer.
The fact she got so close was also partly due to the fact that, for once, Enable was not able to sustain the acceleration she displays so readily two furlongs out right to the line. The key to this is to watch Cloth Of Stars who saw the gap between himself and Enable extend just like the year before until about 150 yards from home where, unlike 2017, it quite clearly begins to diminish.
The likely reason for this became apparent in John Gosden’s post-race interviews when he stated that an elevated temperature had left Enable slightly short of an ideal preparation. Leaving aside the not insignificant matter of this not being mentioned in the numerous interviews and press day on the build up to the race it certainly did look to fit the facts as even Dettori’s heart must have beat a little faster so quickly was the deficit being reduced at the finish.
The Arc of 2018 will live long in the memory and no doubt arguments will still rage as to whether the best horse won. For me she did and Enable may well extend her superiority if the pair meet again unless, as she gains further experience, Sea Of Class can be more versatile in her run style.
However, whatever your views, no one should lose sight of the fact the Arc of 2018 was a superb horse race.
His last visit to the track saw him record a win on his 100th career start and a potentially similar pace profile to that day could see him repeat that success.
His fourth to stable companion Emily Goldfinch has been franked by her startling win from well out of the weights at Newmarket at the weekend and also evidences the well-being of the yard as a whole.
Has not had the breaks in the two runs since blinkers were applied at Salisbury and Newcastle on both occasions and looked as if she could have finished closer.
Her form figures look uninspiring, but she could well be worth chancing as one of the few still open to improvement in a well-exposed field.
Likely to appreciate the return to the all weather, especially as this is the first time he will be able to race in this grade on the surface since his victory at Wolverhampton.
His course and distance second in a 0-70 has worked out well and he is able to race off a 1lb lower mark here.
Winner of this race twelve months ago off the same mark, he could well have had a repeat attempt on his agenda for a while.
Third under a less experienced rider at Chepstow two starts ago shows he is also in good enough form to make a bold bid to retain his crown.