This first Sunday in October see’s the Paris track of Longchamp play host to one of the very best, and possibly THE best of races run anywhere in the world. Serving up a clash of the generations, the crème de la crème amongst the colts and fillies do battle in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Established in 1920, the Arc is run over one and a half miles, or 2400 metres. The race’s most successful jockey is Frankie Dettori who’s last win came in 2018 when Enable completed her Arc double.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Past Winners
|2020||Sottsass||73/10||Jean-Claude Rouget||Cristian Demuro|
|2019||Waldgeist||131/10||Andre Fabre||Pierre-Charles Boudot|
|2018||Enable||Evs||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Enable||10/11||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2016||Found||6/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2015||Golden Horn||9/2||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2014||Treve||11/1||Christiane Head||Thierry Jarnet|
|2013||Treve||9/2||Christiane Head||Thierry Jarnet|
|2012||Solemia||33/1||Carlos Laffon-Parias||Olivier Peslier|
|2011||Danedream||20/1||Peter Schiergen||Andrasch Strake|
|2010||Workforce||6/1||Sir Michael Stoute||Ryan Moore|
|2009||Sea the Stars||4/6||John Oxe||Michael Kinane|
|2008||Zarkava||13/8||Alain de Royer-Dupre||Christophe Soumillon|
|2007||Dylan Thomas||11/2||Aidan O'Brien||Kieren Fallon|
|2006||Rail Link||8/1||Andre Fabre||Stephane Pasquier|
|2005||Hurricane Run||11/4||Andre Fabre||Kieren Fallon|
|2004||Bago||10/1||Jonathan Pease||Thierry Gillet|
|2003||Dalakhani||9/4||Alain de Royer-Dupre||Christophe Soumillon|
|2002||Marienbard||158/10||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
|2001||Sakhee||11/5||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
About the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, or rather “the Arc” as many of us this side of the Channel prefer to call it, is the absolute crème de le crème of European flat racing. No contest on the continent is more prestigious than Longchamp’s 2400m battle which usually takes place on the first Sunday of every October.
Boasting a gargantuan purse that stood at €5m in 2018, it stands as the second richest turf race on the planet. A true showpiece of French racing, the Group 1 contest was once described thus: “Ce n’est pas une course, c’est un monument” (“It’s not a race, it’s a monument”).
Born shortly after the end of World War I, the governing body of French racing named this race after the Arc de Triomphe, the monument by which allied forces celebrated victory in 1919. A year later the Prix l’Arc de Triomphe was up and running, with 150,000 francs handed to connections of the winning horse, Comrade.
By 1949, government funding obtained through the Loterie Nationale saw a gigantic increase in prize money but sponsorship soon began to become the main source of income. The government pulled their involvement entirely in 1982 but by this point the Arc was entirely self-sufficient, boasting a global reputation which has gone from strength to strength.
THE ARC RETURNS HOME
Bar a temporary relocation during the Second World War, Longchamp has always been the home of the Arc. This was until mass redevelopment work, starting in October 2015, forced the racecourse to close its doors to the public. Unable to host the 2016 and 2017 Arc renewals as a result, Chantilly instead had the delight of hosting the esteemed contest. As much as the Oise-based course would’ve liked to have made the switch permanent, the Arc returned to Longchamp in 2018 following a $145m facelift. Much of the money was spent on a new grandstand that offers visitors an unobstructed view of both the racecourse and the Eiffel Tower.
O’BRIEN SECURES UNPRECEDENTED 1-2-3
Chantilly’s time hosting the Arc was short-lived but the event’s debut there will live long in the memory thanks to Aiden O’Brien’s unrivalled achievement. The Irish trainer, who had three runners entered in the contest, landed and incredible 1-2-3 during what was far from an uncompetitive renewal. Never before has a trainer managed this feat and it’s one that could well survive the test of time. Leading the trio was the supreme Found, who along with breaking the Chantilly course record, also became the first Irish-trained filly to strike gold in the Arc.
PRIX DE L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE 2016 FIRST TEN
|1||Found||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore||6/1|
|2||Highland Reel||Aidan O’Brien||Seamie Heffernan||20/1|
|3||Order Of St George||Aidan O’Brien||Frankie Dettori||14/1|
|4||Siljan’s Saga||J-P Gauvin||Pierre-Charles Boudot||1001/|
|5||Postponed||Roger Varian||Andrea Atzeni||15/8 F|
|6||One Foot In Heaven||A De Royer-Dupre||Cristian Demuro||100/1|
|7||New Bay||Andre Fabre||Vincent Cheminaud||12/1|
|8||Savoir Vivre||Jean-Pierre Carvalho||Frederick Tylicki||40/1|
|9||Harzand||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen||11/2|
|10||Vedevani||A de Royer-Dupre||Alexis Badel||250/1|
FABRE REMAINS ON TOP
Despite his incredible achievement in 2016, Aiden O’Brien remains a long way from matching Andre Fabre’s record of eight winners in this French showpiece. The Arc’s leading trainer began with a win in 1987 but he hadn’t celebrated victory for 13 years between Waldgeist’s 2019 triumph and Rail Link who did the business in 2006. Previously, Fabre not gone longer than seven years between wins, leading some to question if he was losing his touch.
His recent record would suggest misfortune more than anything else was responsible for his dry patch. The Frenchman has regularly had at least one name finishing very high up the order, suggesting that a wait for a ninth win won’t be far away.
ENABLE LATEST TO JOIN ELITE LIST
Enable was made to work very hard as she sought to defend her Arc crown in 2018 but she managed to hold off Sea Of Class by the length of a short neck. By successfully claiming back to back victories, John Gosden’s prized horse joined seven other names who have successfully completed an Arc double. Nobody has yet managed to go one better with Enable narrowly missing out when second in 2019. She is being lined up for another crack at a historic triple in 2020.
Prior to Enable, Treve was the last to attempt a hat-trick but despite a valiant effort, the French-bred filly finished fourth, just over two lengths behind Golden Horn.
LADIES BACK ON THE RISE
Having just mentioned Enable and Treve, now seems like a good moment to point out how fillies have regained Arc form. There have been 21 female champions winning on 24 occasions since the inception of the race but following Urban Sea’s win in 1993, the boys ruled supreme for the following 14 renewals. Zarkava’s victory in 2008 has sparked a female fight back though with eight fillies making up the last 12 winners. The full list of female champions is as follows:
Female Arc Winning Horses: 1920 – 2019
|2018||Enable||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Enable||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2016||Found||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2014||Treve||Christiane Head||Thierry Jarnet|
|2013||Treve||Christiane Head||Thierry Jarnet|
|2012||Solemia||Carlos Laffon-Parias||Olivier Peslier|
|2011||Danedream||Peter Schiergen||Andrasch Starke|
|2008||Zarkava||Alain de Royer-Dupre||Christophe Soumillon|
|1993||Urban Sea||Jean Lesbordes||Eric Saint-Martin|
|1983||All Along||Patrick Biancone||Walter Swinburn|
|1982||Akiyda||Francois Mathet||Yves Saint-Martin|
|1981||Gold River||Alec Head||Gary W. Moore|
|1980||Detroit||Olivier Douieb||Pat Eddery|
|1979||Three Troikas||Christane Head||Freddy Head|
|1976||Ivanjica||Alec Head||Freddy Head|
|1974||Allez France||Angel Penna||Yves Saint-Martin|
|1972||San San||Angel Penna||Freddy Head|
|1953||La Sorellina||Etienne Pollet||Maurice Larraun|
|1949||Coronation||Charles Semblat||Roger Poincelet|
|1945||Nikellora||Rene Pelat||William Raphael Johnstone|
|1937||Corrida||John Watts||Charlie Elliot|
|1936||Corrida||John Watts||Charlie Elliot|
|1935||Samos||Frank Carter||Wally Sibbritt|
|1931||Pearl Cap||Frank Carter||Charles Semblat|
SEGACE DENIED BY CONTROVERSIAL DECISION
Reigning champion Segace was the odds-on favourite on his return to Longchamp for the 1985 edition of the Arc. The title defence had largely gone to plan for the five-year-old but Rainbow Quest to his outside was refusing to give in. The pair battled up the home straight but Segace just edged out during what initially appeared a clean fight.
As the crowd celebrated another French winner, the mood suddenly turned as an announcement revealed that Rainbow Quests’ jockey, Pat Eddery, had launched a complaint. After seven minutes of reviewing the incident, stewards ruled in his favour, reversing the result of the contest. Was the decision a fair one? You can decide for yourself.
HOME ADVANTAGE PROVES TELLING
Drawing in horses from far and wide, the Arc is anything but a purely French affair. It has been horses trained from the host nation who have enjoyed the bulk of success though, despite missing out during four of the the past five renewals. While their short-term dominance may be wavering, their position on top in the all-time record will remain safe for many decades.
Although Japan fails to feature on the chart above, it’s only fair to mention that they have been knocking on the door lately. Nakayama Festa finished second in 2010 and Orferve lost out by a neck two years later. Deep Impact also ran a big race in 2006 although he was later disqualified due to a failed drugs test.