Jean-Claude Rouget is in confident mood ahead of Ace Impact’s bid for glory in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday.
It has been quite the rise through the ranks for the son of Cracksman, who did not see the racecourse as a two-year-old and made his debut in the low-key surroundings of Cagnes-Sur-Mer in late January.
Another understated success at Bordeaux followed and he has since proved his class by landing a Listed race and the French Derby at Chantilly, before adding the Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano to his tally at Deauville in the summer.
Ace Impact is the clear favourite to provide his trainer with a second Arc win following the success of Sottsass three years ago and while taking nothing for granted, Rouget feels there are no negatives.
“Why shouldn’t I be optimistic? I’m coming in with a horse that’s unbeaten,” he said on Tuesday.
“We know in any race anything can happen and we’re coming to the end of the season, but he gets three kilos from the older horses, which is important.
“I’m optimistic in the sense that he goes into the race unbeaten and has done everything we have asked him to so far.”
Following his mid-August triumph at Deauville, Rouget considered running his star colt in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown the following month, while he also had the option of getting a first taste of ParisLongchamp in the Prix Niel.
However, mindful of the fact Ace Impact had been on the go since the beginning of the year, he elected to keep his powder dry for the day that matters most.
Rouget added: “It’s very important that he stays a fresh horse because he started his season very early, which is not the usual start for a Classic horse.
“I didn’t want to run him last year in November, I wanted to wait and he then ran in January, so after he ran in Deauville I preferred to not run him again so that he has some freshness going into the Arc.
“It’s been six weeks (since Deauville) and the six weeks have passed very quickly.”
Ace Impact will be racing over a mile and a half for the first time this weekend, but Rouget does not expect him to be beaten for a lack of stamina, while the fact he has never run on the track is also not a concern for the trainer.
“Obviously we can’t be certain, but with the way he finishes his races and also the fact his sire was a winner over the distance gives us hope that he can stay,” he continued.
“If the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) had been over a mile and a half, as it was in the past, he would have won that.
“Last year Vadeni was in the same place for us and he ran really well (finished second to Alpinista).
“It is very rare I run a horse in the Grand Prix de Paris and after that there was just the Prix Niel, which didn’t hold any interest for me.
“I’m not worried about the course, he’s an easy horse once he’s settled in his race and there are plenty of horses that have won the Arc that also hadn’t run at Longchamp before.
“There was just no opportunity to do so, but it’s not something that bothers me.”
With the weather set fair in Paris for the rest of the week, underfoot conditions look likely to be quicker than is often the case for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest.
Rouget is therefore expecting there to be no excuses on the ground front, adding: “I think it is going to be good for everyone, which is an interesting point about this year’s race.
“In the past the race was often criticised for its heavy ground and the fact horses are tired, but this year I think the ground is going to suit everyone.”