Things We Learned » Five things we learned from Arc de Triomphe day

Tremendous Treve

Many things conspired against Treve on Sunday. First, she had lost her intended rider before she even got near the parade ring. Not that Thierry Jarnet is not a top class rider – and what a day he had – and he had actually ridden the filly in more races (3) than Frankie Dettori had (1) before Sunday, but the plan was for Dettori to ride her, and that plan got scuppered at Nottingham.

Then she was drawn wide, 14 of 17, then she raced freely, then she shipped a bump from Al Kazeem, which lit her up even more. No horse was wider than Treve at any stage during the long sweeping run from the end of the back straight to the beginning of the home straight, she probably covered a greater distance of ground than any other horse in the race by some way. And still she was able to do what she did at the end of it.

The view beforehand was that this was a top class renewal of the race, a deep Arc, and there is no reason to alter that view now. It had the Epsom Derby winner, the Japanese Derby winner, the French Derby winner, the French Oaks winner, the St Leger winner, the Eclipse and Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner, the Grand Prix de Paris winner, and the winners of the three French Arc trials as well as last year’s ‘moral’ Arc winner. And the form looks rock solid, with said ‘moral’ Arc winner, the French Derby winner and the Japanese Derby winner finishing second, third and fourth. There is no reason not to believe your eyes.

The Motivator filly was the first Arc winner since Dalakhani in 2003 to overcome a draw higher than eight. And remember, she was unsold as a yearling for €22,000. Alec Head said that he would have let her go for €50,000 or €60,000.

The fact that she stays in training next year is fantastic news for racing (and for Dettori). It would have been a shame to have lost her from the racetrack just when the public has really got to know her. She obviously stays a mile and a half, but she has so much pace that she is at least as effective over 10 furlongs, the distance over which she won the French Oaks.

Indeed, trainer Criquette Head-Maarek said that she could win at the highest level over a mile, the distance at which she won her first two races this season, and it is difficult to argue with that assertion. She goes on good ground and soft ground, and she has a plethora of races as options next season. All, no doubt, building up to the 2014 Arc.

Weight matters

Treve’s win was just another for the three-year-olds in the Arc, and the hypothesis that the Classic generation enjoy an advantage in the race just got another little bit stronger.

After last year’s rare blip, in which the older horses filled three of the first four places, the race reverted to type this year, with three-year-olds finishing first, third, fourth and fifth. The Classic generation filled six of the first eight places from nine of the 17 runners, while older horses filled four of the five last places.

Three-year-olds have now won 16 of the last 20 renewals of the Arc, and eight of the last 10. It is difficult to argue that the 8lb that they receive from their elders is not overly generous.

Also, it is interesting that fillies have now won the last three renewals of the race, and four of the last six. Specifically, the recent record of three-year-old fillies who receive an 8lb age allowance as well as a 3lb sex allowance, reads 1731290561. Before Zarkava in 2008, you have to go back to Urban Sea in 1993 to find the previous distaff winner, so it is difficult to argue on such a small sample size that the 3lb allowance that fillies and mares receive is significant, but it is still worth keeping in mind.

Japan close again

The Japanese involvement in the Arc is fantastic. They bring quite a unique dimension to the race, such is the esteem in which they hold it and the intent with which they perennially set about winning it, and we are not just talking about their effect on the Pari Mutuel odds.

While in one sense, they didn’t get any closer to winning the race this year than they did last year (you couldn’t get any closer to winning it than they did last year without actually winning it), in another sense, they took another step forward in bringing the Japanese Derby winner, a three-year-old, and with their two runners finishing second and fourth. They were just unlucky to bump into Treve. In a different year, they could have finished first and third, or even first and second.

It was another near miss to add to El Condor Pasa and Nakayama Festa and Deep Impact and Orfevre last year, but near misses are better than also-rans. At least they know that they are doing the right thing. It is just a case of happening upon the correct horse in the correct year. You can be sure that they will continue to come, appetite sharpened by the near misses, and it is long odds-on that, one of these years, in the near future, they will win it.

Ballydoyle bowed

You can also be sure that Aidan O’Brien will also be back, even though things didn’t go right for the two Ballydoyle horses in the Arc. Leading Light jumped poorly and was immediately crowded out so, if Gerald Mosse’s Plan A was to make the running, he immediately had to switch to Plan B or C. It was always going to be difficult for Leading Light from there, a St Leger winner, a Queen’s Vase winner, sat behind a wall of horses with nowhere to go behind a sedate pace. If he was a 10/1 shot before the race, he was at least twice that after they had gone a furlong.

By contrast, Ruler Of The World appeared to have the perfect position through the early stages of the race. Ryan Moore had him nicely settled just behind the front rank, up on the outside, but not too wide, with plenty of room to manoeuvre and his race in his own hands.

It was in the false straight that things changed for the Derby winner. Treve moved up on his outside, and Ryan Moore had a decision to make: go with her and hold his position, or allow her off and try to pick her up in the home straight. It was far enough out, it was reasonable for Moore to not want to commit a half a mile from home. Perhaps the horse wasn’t travelling well enough for him to do so anyway.

In the circumstances, he didn’t get the chance to get out after Treve. Before she was fully past, Orfevre and Kizuna came up on his outside and kept him in, then Al Kazeem and Haya Landa. In a half a furlong, Ruler Of The World went from sixth place and travelling well just off the pace with daylight, to about fourth last with a wall of horses in front of him and a mountain to climb.

As it happened, the Galileo colt did pick up in the home straight, staying on to finish seventh but, while he obviously would not have beaten the winner, he can probably be marked up a fair bit on the bare form of the performance. It is great that he will get a chance to prove that he is better than this, as both Ballydoyle Arc contenders reportedly stay in training next year.

Arc day notes

Four other horses who can be marked up on the bare form of their runs at Longchamp on Sunday. Lesstalk In Paris set a really fast pace in the Prix Marcel Boussac, and it was to her immense credit that she almost lasted home. The fillies who tried to lie up even close to her all faded, and all the other fillies (with the exception of Jean-Claude Rouget’s filly) who were close up at the finish had been held up. Three of the first five fillies into the home straight finished last, second last and third last. She is a fair bit better than the bare form of this, and she had looked like a highly talented filly on the run into this race.

Myasun made his ground latest and widest of all in the Prix de l’Abbaye, and finished best of all. He is six but he is in the form of his life, his previous win at Deauville was a career-best. Only one of his 12 wins have been over five furlongs, and he will be of interest when he is stepped back up to six furlongs, especially on easy ground. He could be under-rated if he ever made the trip to Britain or Ireland.

Gifted Girl really had no chance of winning the Prix de l’Opera from her position well back in the field, given how slow the early pace was, but she finished well, making ground all the way to the line, even though she had to check outside Thistle Bird 200 yards out, while Tac De Boistron travelled really well the whole way in the Prix du Cadran, more keenly than ideal through the early stages, and looked a likely winner when he moved up to pass Altano early in the home straight. However, he was just out-stayed by that high-class stayer, who is or was an under-rated horse. Marco Botti’s horse should be better dropped back down to two miles, or even back to a mile and six furlongs on soft ground.

© The Irish Field, 12th October 2013