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Road to the Arc: the main prep races to keep an eye on between now and Longchamp

Enable: set to warm up for the Arc at Kempton
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With just over a month until the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, preparations for those chasing the prestigious Group 1 prize will be stepping up in the coming weeks. While some runners may go straight to the race, connections of other hopefuls could take in a prep run to get them spot-on for the big day. Here are the key trials for those seeking Arc clues . . . 

September Stakes
Kempton, September 5, 1m4f
Key horse: Two-time Arc winner Enable

A Group 3 on the all-weather at Kempton may not be the most obvious of trials for the Arc, but when a two-time winner of the race has used it as a springboard to Longchamp glory, it suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance.

In 2018 Enable used Kempton as a tune-up to winning in Paris, and the wondermare will be in action at the track again on Saturday as she chases a third Arc triumph.

Irish Champion Stakes
Leopardstown, September 12, 1m2f
Key horses: Coronation Cup, Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International winner Ghaiyyath and six-time Group 1 winner Magical

A fantastic Group 1 in its own right, the timing of the Irish Champion Stakes means it could act as a springboard to the Arc. 

Last year's winner, Magical, won at Leopardstown before finishing fifth in the Arc, and she is in the mix for the Irish Champion again. So too is the world's highest-rated horse, Ghaiyyath, and the exciting Alpine Star.

Waldgeist: won the Foy before going on to claim the Arc

Grand Prix de Paris
Longchamp, September 13, 1m4f
Key horse: Derby winner Serpentine 

The Grand Prix de Paris is usually run in July, but has been pushed back this year due to coronavirus and takes the place of the Prix Niel on Arc Trials day.

Restricted to three-year-olds, it is a Group 1 (the Niel is a Group 2) and both races have been used as a stepping stone to Arc glory in recent years. Peintre Celebre (1997), Bago (2004) and Rail Link (2006) landed the Grand Prix de Paris en route to Arc glory, while the last mentioned also took in the Niel, along with Helissio (1996), Montjeu (1999), Sinndar (2000) and Hurricane Run (2005). 

This year Serpentine, who torched the track at Epsom en route to a wide margin Derby success, uses the race to put his Arc credentials to the test.

Prix Foy
Longchamp, September 13, 1m4f
Key horse: Three-time Gold Cup winner Stradivarius

This Group 2 provided last year's Arc winner, so is a trial worth paying close attention to.

Waldgeist defeated Enable at Longchamp off the back of success in the Foy, and Allez France (1974) and Sagace (1984) have also used the race as an Arc launchpad. This year superstar stayer Stradivarius will limber up for the Arc by taking in the Foy.

Prix Vermeille
Longchamp, September 13, 1m4f
Key horse: Prix de Diane fourth and Prix de Psyche winner Raabihah

Should Enable win the Arc for a third time, she will move out of the group of eight horses who are two-time Arc winners.

Among that group is Treve, who was a fixture in the Vermeille before tackling the Arc. She won both races twice, though her 2014 Arc victory came off the back of a fourth-placed finish in the Vermeille.

Longines Grosser Preis von Baden
Baden-Baden, September 13, 1m4f
Key horse: Dante and Grand Prix de Deauville winner Telecaster

One of the highlights of the German racing calendar, the Grosser Preis von Baden has served as a successful trial for the Arc, with Danedream winning both Group 1s in 2011.

Last year, Ghaiyyath served notice of his talent with a 14-length demolition job in the Grosser Preis von Baden, a performance that teed him up for an unsuccessful tilt at the Arc.

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This Group 2 provided last year's Arc winner, so is a trial worth paying close attention to
E.W. Terms