WITH every day that passes, the 2020 Arc looks more and more a two horse race.
But what a contest it is. John Gosden vs. Aidan O'Brien. Ryan Moore vs. Frankie Dettori. The young gun vs. the proven star. Love vs. Enable.
Trials weekend in France failed to throw up many new contenders for the end of season ding-dong at Longchamp.
Perhaps best of the bunch was Mogul, who flew home to land the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris.
Now he's as short as 10-1 in places with the bookies, but O'Brien poured plenty of cold water on those quotes in the aftermath.
He's expected to drop back to ten furlongs and may head abroad after a run at Ascot. That was the last update.
So can anyone take it to the big two, Enable and Love?
The 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner added another Group 1 to her CV at York on her last start.
She beat very little in the Yorkshire Oaks, but it was nothing more than a glorified piece of work to her.
The form of her Classic double can also be questioned, but she put up a brilliant time on the clock and may well have won the Derby had she run there.
The better the surface, the better her chance as she loves it on the top of the ground.
We may still be waiting to see her at her very best, and if she kicks on again she will be very hard to beat getting all the weight allowances.
O'Brien may finally have found the all conquering star his operation may have missed in recent years.
I would love to see Enable win. You'd have to have a heart of stone to not think the same.
A third Arc falling to Enable would be fantastic for the sport.
But if my head rules my heart, I just can't see her doing it. She's six now and looks to be a yard short of her brilliant best.
If the rain falls in France and makes a difference to the course, then her chance is enhanced, especially as Love prefers it quick.
But she has to give 6lbs to Love and might just fall short. For all of Gosden's and Dettori's brilliance, this is their biggest challenge yet.
She's not currently a price that would interest me at all. Come the day that may change, but a lot will depend on the ground and draw.
The Home Team
Jean-Claude Rouget's Raabihah is the shortest in the betting of the French hopes at 16-1.
The three-year-old filly gets all the allowances but looked short of top class when beat by Dermot Weld's Tarnawa last time out and it would take a big jump forwards for her to go close in this deeper race.
At a similar price Sottsass could be their main hope but it would be a disappointing renewal if he came out on top after finishing a well-held third last time.
At 33-1, In Swoop ran a real eye-catching race last time out and could be a lively outsider.
However, the French look like they may be losing the trophy won by Waldgeist last season.
Best Of The Rest
One other fascinating contender is Fancy Blue. Her participation is yet to be confirmed, but as another three-year-old filly, she'd get all the allowances like Love.
She was beat in the Matron over a mile quite convincingly last time out and you'd think on that that we won't see her at that trip again.
If Donnacha O'Brien wishes to step her up to a mile-and-a-half and she improves for it, then odds of 33-1 look generous.
Staying sensation Stradivarius has been written off in a lot of corners. And while I think they've left a crack at the Arc one or two seasons too late, he still has a massive chance this time around.
Yes he was beat last time out, but Frankie Dettori was caught snoozing and he still ran a cracking race in my book. He wasn't beaten for speed as many lazily assumed straight away.
He could do with this being run at a serious gallop and some dig in the ground would only aid his chance further.
Stayers can go well in this race. You only have to look at the likes of Order Of St George in recent years.
And I would argue that Stradivarius is a better horse and one with a few more gears than O'Brien's stayer.
Andrea Atzeni will step in to ride Gosden's star and I can see him going close given a race run to suit. His form this season is some of the best on offer in this race, even when half-cooked in the Coronation Cup.
Derby winner Serpentine is set for another big test. He was bitterly disappointing last time out though.
He's got a lot to prove after that and there are still questions about the Epsom run, and rightly so.
Love is by far and away the likeliest winner in my book. But at 13-8 I would not be backing any horse at that price antepost.
Come the day you may hope for a bit bigger and that may well be the route I take.
But from an antepost angle, Stradivarius looks a bet at 16-1. He's an intended runner and is likely to be single figures on the day.
Pray for rain and a good gallop and I can see him going close.