Cirrus Des Aigles: lines up in the Prix DollarPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Cirrus the star on day one of Arc meeting
THURSDAY night's rain brought contrasting emotions to the camps of the two leading contenders for the highlight of the first day of Arc weekend at Longchamp, the Group 2 Qatar Prix Dollar.
While Corine Barande-Barbe will have been delighted that the ground has softened for last year's runaway winner Cirrus Des Aigles, Mark Johnston expressed concern that the chances of his highly progressive three-year-old Maputo might be compromised.
The mount of Ioritz Mendizabal, Maputo completed a three-timer in the Curragh's Royal Whip Stakes in August.
Johnston warned: "The ground might be an issue. It's a very tough race, as you would expect at that level, but he deserves to be there. He's in good form."
Cirrus Des Aigles has endured a difficult road back from injury this season but enjoyed a confidence-boosting win in a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffitte last time.
"I think he is about to rediscover his best form and the sole thing that could set that back is if we got very fast ground," said Barande-Barbe.
The likes of Mandour and the Marco Botti- trained Planteur have been campaigned at Group 1 level this season, while another visitor with smart form among his own age group is Willie The Whipper from the Ann Duffield yard.
The Prix Daniel Wildenstein has attracted 17 runners. British bookmakers have installed Hungerford Stakes winner Gregorian as favourite and it is hard to pick holes in his defeat of Soft Falling Rain at Newbury, which was followed by a battling third place behind Foretbound Viztoria over 7f at Doncaster last month.
"The ground is soft and he will handle that okay," said Gregorian's trainer John Gosden. "He has a decent chance and a reasonable draw."
French hopes are headed by the rejuvenated Desert Blanc, as well as St James's Palace fourth Mshawish, on whom Olivier Peslier takes over from the injured Frankie Dettori.
William Knight enjoyed his first success in France when Fire Ship held on to land an all-the-way success in a Group 3 at Deauville in August, and the four-yearold lines up again today.
"We are stepping him up into a Group 2 but he seems to be improving as the season progresses and he likes soft ground," said Knight.
Galway Listed winner Yellow Rosebud is the only Irish runner after the withdrawal of Brendan Brackan, and an outside draw has left her trainer Dermot Weld downbeat.
"She is very well and is very adaptable in terms of ground, but it's a poor draw which will be difficult for her to overcome," he said.
Gerald Mosse will be hoping to kick his weekend off in style aboard Nearly Caught for Hughie Morrison in the 1m7f Prix Chaudenay, where the Aga Khan's Valirann is likely to be a warm order after his course-and-distance success last month.