Plenty of classy action to enjoy as we count down to the Arc
Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe needs no introduction but there is also plenty of high-quality action throughout the week in the countdown to one of the highlights in the racing calendar
The Grade 3 Ballymore Irish EBF Novice Chase (4.15) at Roscommon kicks off the week with a field of nine heading to the two-mile event. It is a hotly contested prize with Henry de Bromhead sending three representatives and Joseph O'Brien, who won the event last year, having two runners.
Maria's Benefit, one of the stars in the mares' novice division last year, could feature at Sedgefield. Fourth at the Cheltenham Festival, she could make her debut over fences in the 2m½f novice chase (3.05), although she also has an entry at Warwick on Thursday.
At Naas the seven-furlong maiden (2.45) is certainly worth watching, with subsequent Irish St Leger scorer Flag Of Honour winning the event last year. With plenty of early entries, Ballydoyle look sure to hold a strong hand once again.
Tuesday marks the start of the Racing Post's three-day series showcasing Prince Khalid Abdullah and his influence on British racing.
Nottingham stages its Grassroots finals day, showcasing lower-grade racing. There is a nursery, middle-distance and sprint final across the card. There is Class 2 action from Salisbury (3.15) and the two-year-old event has attracted some quality entries in the form of Promote, Naughty Rascal and Cloak And Dagger.
Jumping action comes from Warwick where the 2m UBS Beginners Chase (3.15) should certainly be worth watching. Won last year by subsequent Grade 1 winner Sceau Royal, the race has attracted the likes of Jenkins, Divin Bere and the aforementioned Maria's Benefit. Huntingdon kicks off its season of racing with a seven-race card.
There is Listed action from Ascot, where the Noel Murless Stakes (3.35) is always a competitive contest. Won by Nichols Canyon and Big Orange in past seasons, the 1m6f event could feature the likes of Sevenna Star, Ghostwatch and Simon Crisford's unbeaten Outbox. There are plenty of competitive handicaps at Ascot, plus Class 2 action over fences at Fontwell.
The Group 1 Sun Chariot is the premier event on a busy Saturday and Newmarket's mile contest is set to be headed by Karl Burke's outstanding filly Laurens, who looks set to take on a high-quality field of fillies and mares including I Can Fly, Veracious, Clemmie and French raider With You.
Ascot also stages Group action in the Cumberland Lodge and Bengough Stakes before the big betting heat, the ferociously competitive Challenge Cup (3.35). The ITV cameras also broadcast from Redcar, which stages the Two-Year-Old Trophy (2.45).
Longchamp begins its two-day Arc festival with a top-class day of action. The two-and-a-half mile Prix du Cadran is the feature contest at Group 1 level on a day, which includes four Group 2 prizes that traditionally attract plenty of British and Irish-trained contenders.
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is one of the most prestigious and competitive prizes in racing and the latest renewal looks well up to scratch. Last year's winner Enable is a hot favourite – but Sea Of Class, Cracksman and Waldgeist will all have their supporters.
There are five other Group 1 contests on the top-class card. Europe's leading sprinters head to the Abbaye – won so impressively by Battaash last year – the seven-furlong Foret will feature a number of British and Irish stars, while top fillies will be in action in the Prix de l'Opera.
The Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere invariably unearths top-quality two-year-old colts, while the Marcel Boussac features star fillies of the future and has been won by Found, Wuheida and Wild Illusion in recent years.
For jumps fans, Kelso and Uttoxeter provide the action in Britain.
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