Rio De La Plata should have easier go in trial for Prix de l'Arc

Godolphin's Rio De La Plata will be seeking his first win of the 2011 season today when he contests the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp.

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Godolphin's Rio De La Plata seeks his first win of 2011 Sunday when he contests the Group 1 Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on a stellar card that acts as a trials day for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe meeting, sponsored by Qatar.

Alongside the Moulin is the Prix Niel, a strong pointer towards the Arc itself, and the Prix Foy, in which Sarafina limbers up for a second crack at Europe's middle-distance championship next month.

Rio De La Plata was last seen on a racecourse finishing third behind Frankel and Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes, but the assignment in France appears much easier.

Marco Botti, a regular raider to Dubai, runs Excelebration, who will be partnered by Jamie Spencer, while the four-year-olds Planteur and Rajsaman, who finished a disappointing 10th in the Dubai World Cup in March, also stand in the way.

If the mile-long contest is the feature race, the feature horse is surely Sarafina, the filly who finished an unlucky third in the Arc behind Workforce last year.

Sarafina was badly hampered in last season's Arc before picking up well to finish behind Nakayama Festa.

Since then, the Aga Khan's four year old has showed she has improved this season with a victory in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud, although the trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre, warned yesterday that his charge is not sharp.

"She is OK, but this is only preparation for the big race, and she is not at her peak fitness," the Frenchman said.

"She is in good form but she always needs her first run after a break, so I would expect her to improve.

"This is a trial."

The field is made up of St Nicholas Abbey, trained by Aidan O'Brien, and an old rival, the aforementioned Nakayama Festa, who is accompanied in the race by fellow Japanese raider, Hituno D'Armour.

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