David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Deep Bond takes a fresh approach to the Arc

Ryuuji Okubo’s charge will have Yuga Kawada onside in a bid to banish last year’s Longchamp disappointment.

Deep Bond’s tired defeat in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe prompted connections to take a different approach this time around, one that will have the Japanese raider arriving at Longchamp on October 2 a much fresher contender for the mile and a half major.

A victorious run in the Prix Foy featured prominently in that first overseas preparation, but this year trainer Ryuuji Okubo and owner Shinji Maeda have plotted a route into the ‘Arc’ that will not take the five-year-old anywhere beyond the tranquil environs of the Chantilly gallops.

Those preparations stepped up a touch on Thursday morning – six days after arriving in France – when Deep Bond extended his limbs in a controlled workout and moved smoothly under his usual work rider Tatsuo Taniguchi.

“It went well, he moved nicely so we are happy about it,” said Kazuhito Sumii, Okubo’s assistant on the ground. “He went to the hill by himself and he was just pushed through the last furlong but it wasn’t a strong gallop, just an easy gallop.

Sumii was Okubo’s eyes, ears and hands at Chantilly 12 months ago as well when, as now, the horse boarded at the stables of trainer Hiroo Shimizu along with the Maeda-owned Entscheiden; this time the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Stay Foolish is also on site, while Do Deuce is staying at Pascal Bary’s and Deep Bond’s recent nemesis, the stunning Titleholder, is set for Satoshi Kobayashi’s yard.


Japan's Arc contender Titleholder storms to a decisive victory in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin. (Photo by Shuhei Okada)

“He experienced this last year so he got used to training in Chantilly and he’s a happy horse here. We don’t worry about that with him,” Sumii said.

But finishing last of 14 in the big Longchamp feature last year left Maeda pondering the five-year-old’s sire, Kizuna, another Prix Foy winner in his blue and red silks, who was only fourth in the Arc behind the great mare Treve. With Deep Bond having failed to flourish out of his Foy win, the ‘fresh’ plan was formed.

“Deep Bond is a horse that usually needs a prep race but last year he went nicely and won his prep race then afterwards he was a bit tired, so he lost that freshness going into the Arc,” Sumii explained.

And, in line with changing things up, whereas Cristian Demuro rode Deep Bond in the Foy and Mickael Barzalona took over in the Arc, Maeda has this time opted to utilise Yuga Kawada. Japan’s current leading rider has never ridden Deep Bond in a race but has been in the plate for two recent gallops in Japan and will arrive in France in time to partner his mount in a final pre-race fast gallop in two weeks’ time.

Yuga Kawada celebrates after riding Loves Only You to Breeders' Cup victory at Del Mar in 2021. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Tokyo Yushun hero Do Deuce satisfied his connections when he warmed up for the Arc with a close fifth in the Prix Niel last week, but Deep Bond’s most difficult opponent could be the horse that has beaten him at his last two starts: Titleholder.

The powerful front-runner had Deep Bond seven lengths second in the Spring Tenno Sho over two miles and last time out in the 2300-metre Takarazuka Kinen at the end of June, he had him second again, four lengths back.

“I think Titleholder is one of the best horses and I think he will be suited to Longchamp. He is a really great horse, I think, and will be really hard to beat, but he hasn’t travelled before and Deep Bond already has that experience so hopefully we can beat him this time,” Sumii said, although he, like all Japanese connections are hoping this year’s Longchamp going will be at the opposite end of the scale to last year’s wet, energy-sapping ground.

“He can handle heavy ground in Japan but it is completely different to heavy ground at Longchamp. I think fast ground will be much better for him.”

If the rain holds off, that long-sought first Japanese Arc win could be closer to happening and a fresher, stronger Deep Bond should be a lot closer to the action than last year.   




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