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Dettori hopes the wind is with him in Arc farewell

Paris (AFP) – Frankie Dettori’s final season in the saddle has had many memorable moments but the Italian superstar can crown those with victory on Free Wind in Europe’s most prestigious horse race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday.

Free Wind will face 14 rivals drawn from across Europe and one from Japan as they bid for the winners cheque of 3.1million euros ($3.3 million) at Longchamp.

The field may lack a horse with box office appeal but it is an intriguing and open contest.

AFP Sport picks out three horses who if they won would bring the house down:

Wind in his sails — Frankie’s adieu

As final rides go in such a great race Free Wind does not really measure up to Dettori’s star billing. The likelihood of her delivering him a record-extending seventh win reflected in how at the start of the week she was a 66/1 chance.

However, a mixture of punters flocking to Dettori’s standard and bookies being wary saw her slashed to 16/1.

It’s fair to say the five-year-old mare does not rank alongside some of his previous Arc winners such as Golden Horn and two-time champion Enable.

However, Dettori also won on the modest Marienbard in 2002 and based on Free Wind’s decent runners-up spot in the Group One Yorkshire Oaks in August she gets her chance.

Trained like so many of Dettori’s best known winners by John Gosden, his son Thady shares the licence these days, the question is can they summon up one last piece of Arc magic.

The massed ranks of Longchamp spectators would dearly love to see a final flying dismount from the charismatic Italian.

Continuous seeks to end St Leger jinx

Continuous bids to succeed where all previous St Leger winners have tried and failed in adding the Arc to their laurels weeks after landing the oldest classic.

Perhaps the most famous one to come up short was turf legend Nijinsky, who having completed the English classic Triple Crown in the St Leger was beaten a head by Sassafras in 1970.

Serendipitously Continuous is trained out of the same Ballydoyle Stables in County Tipperary, Ireland, where Nijinsky used to strut proudly under the keen eye of the late Vincent O’Brien, no relation to Sunday’s runner’s handler Aidan O’Brien.

Nijinsky’s efforts in the St Leger were many believed a contributing factor to his heartbreaking defeat.

Aidan O’Brien, though, is of the opinion that despite Continuous preparing for his third high class race inside two months he is in good order especially as he has a plum draw in the middle of the stalls.

“He (Continuous) seems tough enough and in good enough shape to face the challenge,” said O’Brien, who is seeking his third winner in the race.

“He’s straightforward, adapts to all types of ground, can easily hold his position during a race, and has gained in maturity.”

Japanese hopes all at sea

One would be justified in asking what will happen first, a St Leger/Arc double or a Japanese winner?

Japan have been trying since 1969 to win the race that many Japanese label as the ‘Holy Grail’ of the sport.

This year the romantically named Through Seven Seas is their sole challenger attempting to make equine history.

On paper the five-year-old mare would appear out of her depth with a sole Group Three success to her credit.

However, she earned her tilt at the Arc with an eye-catching performance when beaten only a neck by the world’s best horse Equinox in June in the Group One Takarazuka Kinen.

Such a long hiatus between races is unusual, particularly when the target is as high class and competitive as the Arc and on a totally alien track.

Previous Japanese runners have raced at Longchamp a few weeks before the Arc but Through Seven Seas trainer Tomohito Ozeki says she is better after a long rest.

“She is a mare that needs a little bit of time between her races, probably longer than other horses,” he said.

“I think that is ideal for her.”

Her French jockey Christophe Lemaire, idolised in Japan, has won many big races but this for him would be on another plane.

“As you can imagine considering my history with Japan, it would mean a lot to win the Arc with a Japanese horse,” said the 44-year-old.

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