Aidan O’Brien withdraws his four horses from Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe showdown with Enable after they tested positive for a banned substance
- Japan, Mogul, Serpentine and Sovereign will miss the big race in Paris
- The four horses have provided positive samples for a banned substance
- Hot favourite Enable will seek to claim an historic third Arc on Sunday
The Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe was thrown into chaos with trainer Aidan O’Brien forced to withdraw his four runners after they were caught up in a drama surrounding contaminated feed.
O’Brien pulled out Grand Prix de Paris winner Mogul, Derby winner Serpentine, plus their stablemates Sovereign and Japan in a move which not only significantly weakened the opposition to hot favourite Enable in her bid to win an historic third Arc but also dramatically changed the tactical make-up of the race.
O’Brien said that horses also entered in races on the Arc card trained by his sons Donnacha and Joseph would also be withdrawn.
Aidan O’Brien was due to field Japan, Sovereign, Mogul and Serpentine (above) on Sunday
O’Brien’s team is one of the stables that have been affected by some feed products from the Irish firm Gain Equine Nutrition being contaminated with Zilpaterol, which is unlicensed in Europe but used in the US to promote weight gain, mainly in cattle.
His two runners at Longchamp on Saturday – Passion (fifth in the Prix de Royallieu) and Mythical (last of six in the Prix Chaudenay) – were allowed to start after blood and urine samples came back clear.
Test results on his Arc runners had not been expected until Sunday morning but late on Saturday night the news emerged that O’Brien’s Arc team had tested positive for Zilparetol.
A statement on his Ballydoyle stable twitter account read: ‘Unfortunately the results of the urine samples taken from the horses yesterday have come back positive from the French laboratory.
Enable and jockey Frankie Dettori have another shot at racing immortality on Sunday
‘There is a possibility that the contaminant may have left their system by the time of racing tomorrow however we have no guarantee of this and in order to protect the integrity of racing we have decided to withdraw all our horses from tomorrow. Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien will do likewise.’
Among the other high profile withdrawals are Joseph’s Pretty Gorgeous in the Prix Marcel Boussac and Donnacha’s French Oaks winner Fancy Blue from the Prix De L’Opera.
The news from the O’Briens followed the decision of Newmarket trainer Roger Varian yesterday to withdraw runners all his runners at Newmarket, Redcar and Wolverhampton as a precaution after they were also caught up in the same problem.
The development, which sent shockwaves through the sport, massively diverts from what had seemed the big issue – whether Frankie Dettori-ridden Enable would be able to cope with the heavy ground to erase the memory of last year’s defeat to become the first horse to win Europe’s most prestigious all-age race three times.
Some might argue that the defection of the O’Brien clan will devalue Enable’s performance if she wins but the second and third favourite – her stablemate Stradivarius and last year’s third Sottsass – are still in there and in years to come few will point out a weakened line-up if she manages to make history in the 100th anniversary of the first running of the race.