Tips from Matt Chapman: Why I think that 25-1 shot at the Arc de Triomphe can cause a lot of excitement

MOST of you will never have heard of Al Hakeem – but I hope that will change in the next 48 hours.

Al Hakeem is a French-trained colt and horses across the Channel have been at home in Group 1 races this season.

Our man Chappers envisions an underdog winning the Arc on Sunday


Our man Chappers envisions an underdog winning the Arc on SundayPhoto credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd.

So the Jean-Claude Rouget bishop is a huge prize to land tomorrow’s arc.

The Longchamp thriller, shown live on ITV, has long been the ultimate 1.5 mile test and looks wide open with a full field of 20.

Likely favorite is Luxemburg, the former Derby big-shot who missed Epsom but showed everyone what he can do by landing the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. He finally goes beyond the travel connections he always thought he would enjoy.

Other key players include Alpinista, who is looking for a sixth Group 1 race for Sir Mark Prescott and Luke Morris, and last year’s mud-loving hero Torquator Tasso, the mount of Frankie Dettori.


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Defending champion goes for Japan and isn’t a cup while Rob Hornby is back at Derby third-placed Westover who picked up the Irish equivalent for Colin Keane.

With Coral Eclipse winner Vadeni, runner-up Irish champion Onesto and huge moneymaker Mishriff taking his chance, it’s a deep arc.

But I have a feeling Al Hakeem will shock them all, for a home side who have scored just three of their 16 Group 1 games to date this season.

So why could Al Hakeem throw down a shock in the sponsor’s colors, worn twice by Treve to victory? First off, everything Al Hakeem has done suggests he was screaming for that distance.

Saturday tips from Matt Chapman


1.31 – Persevere in both directions

2.06 – Skysail in both directions

2.42 – Successful voyage in both directions


1.51 – King’s Lynn in both directions

2.25 – Hamisch

3.00 – Ehraz there and back

3.36 – river nymph in both directions


3.21 – Cold case

Just look at his fourth place finish in the French derby when he ran strong and his rally win last time out at Deauville.

History dictates that most Arc winners are proven stayers, but this year there are many first timers and Al Hakeem is one.

As a horse likely to retire, box four is ideal and Rouget had Arc success in 2020 with Sottsass under the same jockey Cristian Demuro.

In no case should Al Hakeem be around 25-1.

Many will bet on Aidan O’Brien and Luxemburg, but only two of the last 10 market leaders have been successful.

Luxemburg is well bred in eight – only four Arc winners at Longchamp came from double-digit stands from 1995 to 2019 – and he speeds like a horse that appreciates a mile and a half.

Westover will have to settle in better than he did last time at the King George at Ascot, but I suspect he’ll enjoy being back with Hornby.

In recent years, Irish Derby winners Montjeu, Sinndar and Hurricane Run have all landed the Arc. Conditions are ideal and he’s another with a good seventh place.

I also find Onesto overpriced. Frankel’s son ran just once on this trip, winning the Grand Prix de Paris, while St Leger hero Eldar Eldarov finished fourth.

I’d be surprised if Onesto doesn’t at least give you some competition, despite having to reverse Leopardstown form with Luxemburg and French derby placements with Al Hakeem.

If you fancy playing a horse at 100-1, I wouldn’t scare you off with a few pounds each way on Alenquer either. It’s ironic that William Haggas’ Baaeed would have been the clear favorite but by the looks of it he has the roughie.

Alenquer was ninth last year when he had the pace and I think he’s a lot better challenging late on.

That means I’ll be cheering for Al Hakeem. Never heard of him?

you have now


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