This weekend we have one of the most influential middle distance races on the calendar to look forward to, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
It sees the best of the classic generation taking on the older horses over a mile and a half and rightly, is one of the most prestigious races in the world.
Orfevre should have won this race last year having been reeled in the last couple of strides. He hasn't done anything wrong this season with two wins, including the Prix Foy where he looked impressive. Everything points to another good run, but he isn't straightforward and I'd be happy enough to take him on.
Frankie Dettori suffered a blow on Wednesday when he broke his ankle at Nottingham having suffered a fall on the way to post. He will be absolutely gutted he is out for the season, but perhaps the biggest blow is the fact he misses the ride on Criquette Head-Maarek's unbeaten filly Treve in this race for retained owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani.
Thierry Jarnet is the lucky jockey who takes the ride, but she is no stranger to Jarnet as he was on board for three of her four starts. She has an outstanding chance of winning this after dominant displays in the Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille on her last two starts.
Frankie looks to be missing out on a great chance to win the Arc once again on Treve, but I'm going to go with a win for Japan with Kizuna.
Quotes of the week
Like Orfevre, Kizuna is also trained in Japan. This colt has won his last four starts, which include a narrow defeat of Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World in the Prix Niel last time out.
They both line up again, but the Japanese raider showed a lovely turn of foot there on his first run since May and he should have benefitted for that outing. Ryan Moore rides Aidan O'Brien's horse who gave him that Derby victory at Epsom.
The German trained Novellist won the King George under Johnny Murtagh, who keeps the ride. I'm just not sure that his form is as strong as some of the others and I'll not be backing him on Sunday. Andre Fabre is the master trainer and he saddles a few runners in this. Intello looks to be the pick after strong form over trips shorter than the one he will encounter here.
There has always been an element of doubt about his ability to stay and that would be of concern although jockey Olivier Peslier doesn't think it will be an issue. Another of Fabre's runners is Flintshire who was beaten favourite behind Kizuna last time out. He does have some very strong form, but the worry is that the good to soft ground they are expecting at the weekend may be too soft for him.
One horse who will love those ground conditions is Roger Charlton's Al Kazeem. This horse has somewhat become the forgotten horse having been beaten in the Juddmonte International and Irish Champion Stakes. He is dangerous to discount though and has the class and ability to win this if getting back to his best. I would be keen to back him each way just incase.
Like Treve, Aidan O'Brien's Leading Light was also supplemented for this race on Thursday. Gerald Mosse is a very positive booking, but I worry that the Queen's Vase and Leger winner lacks enough toe to win this. Joseph O'Brien is very tall and can't do the weight on either of the Ballydoyle runners.
The Fugue has proved she is as good as ever and looked outstanding in the Irish Champions Stakes where she defeated Al Kazeem. She wouldn't want the ground too soft and that is a concern.
So a top class contest which is incredibly difficult to call. Orfevre is out for compensation and should run a big race. Frankie looks to be missing out on a great chance to win the Arc once again on Treve, but I'm going to go with a win for Japan with Kizuna. I also think Al Kazeem could run a massive race at a decent price.
Staying at Longchamp, and the top sprinters line up in the Prix de l'Abbaye. The market is headed by the Robert Cowell trained Nunthorpe winner Jwala. Her win in the York Group 1 didn't look like a fluke and Cowell has really made a name for himself for his handling of his sprinters. In the big scheme of things she isn't too exposed with five wins from her 15 starts and she is blessed with plenty of speed which she will need over the five furlongs at Longchamp.
Away from the Longchamp features, Moonlight Cloud should be hard to beat in the Prix de la Foret over the seven furlong trip that seems to suit her best. Sadly, this could be the last time we see her on a racecourse, but she's an exceptional race mare and I hope she goes out on a high.
I hope Sandiva can win the Prix Marcel Boussac for Richard Fahey. She won over seven furlongs at Deauville last time out and if she stays a mile in this will run a big race. Ryan Moore takes over from the injured Frankie Dettori and the racing on Sunday could make for more painful viewing than his fracture judging on the rides he is missing. Secret Gesture could be another horse to run well for the Brits, she's in the Prix de l'Opera. The Oaks runner up ran well behind The Fugue last time out in the Yorkshire Oaks and looks capable of winning a Group 1.
A real puzzle
The feature race on Saturday is the seven furlong Heritage Handicap, the Challenge Cup at Ascot and it looks a real puzzle. Ascription is one of the protagonists for Hugo Palmer and Kieren Fallon, but the top weight is ground dependant and needs some give underfoot. He was taken out of last week's Cambridgeshire due to the good to firm ground and therefore isn't one to back until the day when we have a clearer idea about conditions. I think I would also prefer to see him over a mile+ so for me is one to leave alone at the prices.
Big Johnny D is one of a couple in this with a chance for trainer David Barron. The trip is ideal and he seems to handle most ground and he is improving. I like his other runner though, Bertiewhittle. This horse hasn't won for a couple of years, but has been knocking on the door in decent races and his latest second at Doncaster would suggest his turn can't be far away. He isn't obviously well handicapped but he is threatening to win a decent pot and this could be his opportunity. Whatever happens, David Barron must be happy with his two runners.
The Ed Vaughan trained Redvers won over this course and distance last time out and has been raised just 3lbs for the privilege. Richard Hannon has a couple of runners with Wentworth the pick under Ryan Moore. He would prefer a bit of rain to fall, although doesn't want extremes, he's a decent horse and can run well. Loving Spirit ran well on the all weather at Kempton last time out, but he's not prolific and may not be incredibly well handicapped. It's a tough one to sort out but I like Bertiewhittle and Wentworth. The latter is just a 3 year-old so I'll go for the battle hardened Bertiewhittle to win under Jamie Spencer.
Bertiewhittle in the Challenge Cup @ 12/1 with Sky Bet
Kizuna in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe @ 8/1 with Sky Bet
Al Kazeem in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe @ 14/1 (each way)
Jwala in the Prix de l'Abbaye @ 6/1 with Sky Bet
Moonlight Cloud in the Prix de la Foret
Sandiva in the Prix Marcel Boussac
Secret Gesture in the Prix de l'Opera