Pat Smullen feels hard races in the early part of the summer probably took the edge off Harzand in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Having won the Investec Derby in June and the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish equivalent just weeks later, the Dermot Weld-trained colt could manage only ninth behind an Aidan O'Brien one-two-three headed by Found at Chantilly, following on from a similarly disappointing Irish Champion Stakes performance.
Smullen said: "I was a little bit disappointed as we were expecting a big run, but he just didn't fire at all. I think he's a horse who put so much into the first half of the year and had very hard races in two Derbys and maybe he gave his all in the first half of the year. It may have left its mark but I have no excuses with the ground. He has been a brilliant racehorse and is a dual Derby winner so you can't take that away from him. He's a very, very good horse, but was just a better horse in the first half of the year."