Arc Trial Betting

Held at Newbury on Sports Saturday, the second day of the annual Dubai Duty Free International Weekend in September, the Arc Trial is a much anticipated Group 3 flat race. It is one of the features among seven afternoon races held on that day, joined by the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes and the Group 3 World Trophy. Apart from horse racing, the weekend features sporting master classes, trick shot shows, live music, a face painter and a bouncy castle for the children, making it a festive fall fixture for the entire family.

With a total prize pool reaching as high as £65,000, the Arc Trial is open to all Thoroughbreds aged three years and upwards. It covers a distance of one mile, three furlongs and five yards on the left-handed turf of the Newbury Racecourse. The youngest runners each carry a weight of eight stone ten pounds, while those aged four years and older must bear nine-stone-three.

There is an allowance of three pounds for fillies and mares. Penalties are applied to entries that have finished first in meetings since 28th February of the same year. They amount to seven pounds for Group 1 winners, five pounds for Group 2 winners and three pounds for Group 3 winners.

As its name implies, the Arc Trial was conceived as preliminary event for October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The inaugural edition was run in 1997 at the Listed level. Although the sponsor for the first two installments was Doubleprint, since 1999 the title has been held by the Kingdom of Dubai, primarily to promote the Dubai Duty Free brand. In 2004, the event was promoted to its present Group 3 status.

Although the race is still relatively new, already two different horses have claimed a pair of victories here apiece. Compton Bolter was the first to accomplish the double, winning in 2003, coming in third in 2004 and then returning for second victory in 2005. The other double winner was Blue Monday, finding success in 2006 and 2008.

Blue Monday’s rider on both occasions was Steve Drowne, making him the only jockey to gather two wins here. Likewise, the victories put trainer Roger Charlton in the company of two others with a brace of victories—Compton Bolter’s trainer Gerard Butler and Sir Michael Stoute, who was responsible for schooling Fantastic Light in 1999 and Doctor Fremantle in 2009.

Since the turn of the new millennium, favorites have succeeded on four occasions. Pawn Broker was the first in 2000, delivering at odds of 6/4. Next came Grandera in 2001 at 5/6, followed by Sights On Gold at 3/1 in 2004. The most recent top-rated horse to claim victory in the Arc Trial was Blue Monday in his initial outing at 2/1.

The one horse the bookmakers badly overlooked in the past decade was Compton Bolter. They had him at 9/2 when he got his first success and at 11/1 when he finished third a year later. The bay gelding was a ripe eight years old when he got his second win at odds of 25/1. Although he would race ten more times before retiring, that was the last victory of his career.

A similar fate awaited Blue Monday after getting his second win at age seven, paying 15/2. It was his last victory despite four more starts over the next two years. The Arc Trial really belongs to the younger runners, with three-year-olds claiming five of the first six meetings, plus another in 2007 with Halicarnassus. Four-year-olds won both the 2009 and 2010 editions. Five-year-olds have three victories here, while six-year-olds have one.

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