Al Riffa has Arc on the agenda after gallant Eclipse effort

Joseph O'Brien is eyeing up a tilt at one of Europe's biggest prizes with his Coral-Eclipse runner-up Al Riffa seemingly destined for a crack at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later this season.

AL RIFFA winning the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1)
AL RIFFA winning the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1) Picture: Pat Healy Photography

The son of Wootton Bassett has already tasted success at the top-level having landed the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes as a juvenile and after bouncing back from a below-par effort in America, trainer Joseph O'Brien has aspirations of winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after shaping as though the step up to a mile and a half would suit when chasing home, the imperious City Of Troy last weekend.

"I think we all thought for a moment he was going to make it interesting, and he did. I'm very proud of him," said Joseph O'Brien.

"It was a fantastic run from a top horse, and it is the first time he has had a bit of juice in the ground since the National Stakes (in 2022).

"We'll probably make the rest of the season all about the Arc, which will be his main target.

"We came here a bit soon after America. Things didn't go our way in America, but it was worth a chance, and we decided to come here from there and in fairness to the horse we have kind of rushed him back a little bit.

"He's vindicated the decision to run, and we won't rush him now, we will prepare for the Arc.

"He should enjoy the mile and a half as his family is all stamina. It looked like a mile and a half will suit him on his run last Saturday. He hasn't tried a mile and a half yet, but I think he will be better."

While Al Riffa looks destined to take a different path to City Of Troy as the season progresses, Ghostwriter could be in line to take on Aidan O'Brien's star once more, with Cox hoping to see some better ground at the Juddmonte International for his Coral-Eclipse third.

"I am over the moon. It was a tremendous performance bar being beat and he has run with full credit. We are all very proud of him and he has tried very hard," said Cox.

"We would appreciate slightly drier ground, but I am not making any excuses as he has still run a very solid race.

"I think a mile and a quarter is perfect for him and Richard (Kingscote) agrees. He is in the Juddmonte and that is a track (York) that I think he would enjoy."

City Of Troy heads the betting for the Juddmonte International at York in August, with Clive Cox's Ghostwriter a 20/1 chance to reverse the form. Paddy Power make Al Riffa a 25/1 shot for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on the 6th of October.

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