Jean-Claude Rouget says Raabihah and Love are the two to beat in the Arc
Ahead of a huge weekend of racing across Europe that is likely to do much to shape the market for next month's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Jean-Claude Rouget says he retains a huge amount of faith in Raabihah, who will put her credentials on trial in Sunday's Prix Vermeille.
And while the two-time French champion trainer retains plenty of respect for two-time winner Enable, he believes it could be another year for the three-year-old fillies, with Love the horse who could give Raabihah most to think about.
Unraced at two, Hamdan Al Maktoum's impeccably bred daughter of Sea The Stars shot to prominence with a four-length Listed success at Longchamp in May on only her second start.
Sent off the joint second-favourite behind Royal Ascot winner Alpine Star for a red-hot Prix de Diane Longines in July, Raabihah was undone by an unusually sedate pace when fourth to Fancy Blue, but put that disappointment behind her with a straightforward dismissal of Wangari in the Group 3 Prix de Psyche at the beginning of August.
"Raabihah had a good gallop last week in Deauville," said Rouget, who has always insisted that a step up to a mile and a half would see further improvement for a filly whose second and third dams Eswarah and Midway Lady, both won the Oaks.
"We are very happy with her as always, she is such an easy filly and she always does what we ask of her without doing too much in the morning. I think she is a real champion."
Asked what he made of Enable's Arc warm-up at Kempton on Saturday, Rouget respectfully suggested that the greater danger to Raabihah would be current ante-post favourite Love.
"That didn't change anything for us," Rouget said of Enable's success in the September Stakes. "The Arc is a big race and I hope the best horse will win. I've been quite impressed with Love.
"Love and Raabihah for me – with the difference in weight – maybe these two fillies [are my favourites]."
Rouget is yet to win France and Europe's biggest all-aged prize, although he expects to be well represented at Longchamp on October 4.
Last year's third Sottsass has his final pre-Arc assignment in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes, while Port Guillaume is set to take his chance in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris on the same Longchamp card as the Vermeille.
Port Guillaume was recently purchased for Edmund Lee to be campaigned in Australia, and a decision will be made after Sunday as to whether he will stay on with Rouget for the Arc, with the alternative being a preparation for the Caulfield Cup under handlers Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
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