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Arc - History of the great race

The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, France, is often described as the greatest race in Europe and the winner of this prestigious and valuable contest is usually hailed a champion.

The first running of the 12-furlong event on October 3, 1920, went to the Peter Gilpin-trained Comrade, bought for a modest 25 guineas as a yearling.

Ksar was the first dual winner of the Arc (there have been six in all) in 1921 and 1922.

The Elijah Cunnington-trained Massine enjoyed a brilliant season in 1924, first winning the Ascot Gold Cup in Britain before going on to capture the Arc by one and a half lengths from Isola Bella. The Arc was one of 11 French races that the Consols colt won.

The early 1930s saw Motrico become the second dual winner of the Arc. The Maurice d’Okhuysen-trained horse gained his first success as a five-year-old in 1930, bypassed the following year’s running taken by Pearl Cap, and then secured his second victory in 1932.

Two years later the race went to one of the great French horses of the last century - Brantome. He was never beaten as a two or three-year-old, with his victories including the French 2,000 Guineas, a two and a half length success from Assuerus in the Arc and the French St Leger.

Bred and owned by Marcel Boussac, Corrida, successful in back-to-back Arcs in 1936 and 1937, was one of the best fillies to race in Europe between the World Wars.

Marcel Boussac also owned two of the best Arc winners during the 1940s in Djebel (1942) and Caracalla (1946), and had six winners in all. The former won the British and French 2,000 Guineas two years earlier and was unbeaten in seven starts as a five-year-old, while Caracalla’s unbeaten career also included victories in the Gold Cup at Ascot, the Grand Prix de Paris and the French St Leger.

The race was not run in 1939 or 1940 and took place in Tremblay in 1943 and 1944 over the slightly shorter distance of 2,300 metres.

Former cavalry officer Francois Mathet sent out Tantieme to win both the 1950 and 1951 renewals. The horse’s initial success came as a three-year-old, with the first six places being filled by members of the Classic generation. Tantieme justified favouritism the following year and beat Nuccio, who was then successful 12 months later, by two lengths. Winning jockey Jacques Doyesbere was so confident that he arranged a dinner party for a dozen people some days before the Arc!

Francois Mathet also had Arc winners with Sassafras (1970) and Akiyda (1982). The other handlers to achieve four successes have been Charles Semblat with Djebel (1942), Ardan (1944), Caracalla (1946) and Coronation (1949), and Alec Head with Nuccio (1952), Saint Crespin (1959), Ivanjica (1976) and Gold River (1981), but they trail behind Andre Fabre who has enjoyed seven wins.

Ribot became the second of the three post-war dual Arc winners in 1955 and 1956. One of the greatest horses of all time, the Italian-trained colt won his two Arcs by a combined distance of nine lengths and, for good measure, also captured the 1956 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the other great all-aged European 12-furlong race, at Ascot, England, by five lengths. He retired unbeaten in 16 starts.

Legendary Irish trainer Vincent O’Brien gained his first (of three) Arc victory courtesy of Ballymoss in 1958. Unfortunate to come up against a rival of the class of Crepello in the 1957 Derby at Epsom, the Mossborough colt made no mistake in the Irish equivalent and became a dual Classic winner in the English St Leger. Ballymoss continued to progress as a four-year-old and, at the peak of his strength and maturity, was able to defy the mud at Longchamp to beat Fric by two lengths.

1965 was the year that Sea-Bird treated his rivals with contempt in both the Epsom Derby and the Arc. Australian rider Pat Glennon even dropped his hands 50 yards from the post in the French race, such was the ease of his victory in beating a field which included the Russian champion Anilin as well as the French, Irish and American Derby winners by six lengths, equalling the record winning distance set by Ribot.

It was the brilliant French trainer Etienne Pollet’s second success in the Arc following La Sorellina in 1953 and he added another victory with Vaguely Noble in 1968 who proved three lengths too strong for Sir Ivor in an extremely high-class renewal.

The 1970s was a golden decade for the Arc, with legendary winners such as Mill Reef, Allez France and Alleged among others.

Mill Reef is the horse that the now-retired British trainer Ian Balding will always be associated with following a brilliant season in 1971, when Epsom Derby success was followed by victories in the Eclipse Stakes, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Arc. He won the Arc easily by three lengths at the expense of the talented filly Pistol Packer.

Allez France became France’s favourite post-war filly when the daughter of the 1965 hero Sea-Bird triumphed for Argentinean-born trainer Angel Penna by a head from Comtesse De Loir in 1974. The previous year she had won both the French 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, before finishing two and a half lengths behind Rheingold in the 1973 Arc.

The trainer-jockey combination of Vincent O’Brien/Lester Piggott was an awesome team at its peak and the pair assisted the Robert Sangster-owned Alleged in becoming the most recent dual Arc winner in 1977 and 1978.

Piggott had been accused of a poor ride on the American-bred colt in the British St Leger but the jockey made no mistake for the first of the horse’s Arc successes, dictating the pace and launching Alleged to a scintillating victory in the straight.

Alleged’s four-year-old campaign was extremely frustrating until he came good in the autumn, breaking the track record in his Arc trial before taking the main target by two lengths from Trillion.

Dancing Brave will forever be remembered as the horse who did not win the Epsom Derby in 1986. He had already proved that he possessed great speed by winning the 2,000 Guineas and he went on to triumph in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Arc.

His victory in France over one of the strongest fields ever assembled came in a record time of 2m 27. 7s, with jockey Pat Eddery coolly swooping widest of all for a length and a half win over Bering.

The exquisitely-bred Lammtarra became the first of Godolphin’s three Arc winners in 1995. He raced on only four occasions but remained unbeaten with Group One victories in the Epsom Derby, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Arc. Frankie Dettori rode a great race at Longchamp, urging the three-year-old to repel the year older Freedom Cry by three quarters of a length.

Six years later, Godolphin completed back-to-back wins in the Arc with the brilliant Sakhee and Marienbard.

The 2001 victor Sakhee had found Sinndar just a length too strong in the 2000 running of the Epsom Derby, with the next horse five lengths adrift. The following year, he went on to win the Juddmonte International at York by a sensational seven lengths from Grandera before justifying high expectations in the Arc by six lengths from Aquarelliste. He went down by just a nose to Tiznow on his next start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at Belmont Park, USA.

The 2002 hero Marienbard had run well over longer distances the previous season. Dropped back in trip, he demonstrated a tremendous turn of foot when winning two 12-furlong Group One events in Germany and H.H. Sheikh Mohammed’s decision that he should run in the Arc paid handsome dividends when the five-year-old stayed on well to beat Sulamani by three quarters of a length, with dual Derby winner High Chaparral a further half a length away.

Andre Fabre is the most successful trainer in the history of the Arc with seven victories and the fourth of those came in 1997 courtesy of Peintre Celebre. His other triumphs have been secured with Trempolino (1987), Subotica (1992), Carnegie (1994), Sagamix (1998), Hurricane Run (2005) and Rail Link (2006).

In winning the French Derby, Peintre Celebre achieved a lifetime ambition for owner Daniel Wildenstein. If this was not enough, the three-year-old Nureyev colt went on to take the Arc later that term by five lengths from Pilsudski and a top-class field featuring 11 Group One scorers, including the previous season’s five-length Arc winner Helissio, in a new record time of 2m 24.60s.

Peintre Celebre gave Daniel Wildenstein his fourth Arc success, following on from Allez France (1974), All Along (1983) and Sagace (1984). It would have been five but Sagace was disqualified after passing the post first in 1985 for twice bumping the neck runner-up Rainbow Quest who was awarded the spoils.

Montjeu and Sinndar also both struck in the Arc for the Classic generation in 1999 and 2000. The former won both the French and Irish Derbys before going on to further glory at Longchamp, half a length ahead of Japanese raider El Condor Pasa, while the John Oxx-trained Sinndar took the Epsom and Irish Derbys en route to victory in Paris where he won the Arc by half a length.

In 2003, Dalakhani provided the present Aga Khan with his second victory in four years following on from Sinndar when the three-year-old came home three quarters of a length clear of Mubtaker under Christophe Soumillon. Dalakhani also won the Prix Lupin, Prix du Jockey-Club and Prix Niel and was rated the best European three-year-old of 2004 in the International Classifications.

The Aga Khan once again saw his colours carried to Arc victory in 2008 when Zarkava became the undisputed “Queen of Longchamp”, with seven of her eight career victories being achieved at the Paris course.

One of the best three-year-old fillies of the modern era, Alain de Royer-Dupre’s charge claimed the 16th triumph by a filly in the Arc and the first since Urban Sea in 1993.

Zarkava capped an unbeaten career in phenomenal style when unleashing her trademark acceleration to sweep from the rear of a top-class field and triumph by two lengths.

Youmzain took the runner-up berth behind Zarkava and the Mick Channon-trained horse had filled the same berth a year earlier in 2007 when, after long deliberations, the Longchamp stewards decided to let first past the post, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Dylan Thomas, keep the race despite the colt going right and crossing eventual eighth Zambezi Sun a furlong and a half out.

Dylan Thomas made headway to lead entering the final furlong and was driven out to hold off the late challenge of Youmzain by a head.

Remarkably, Youmzain pulled off a hat-trick of second place finishes in the race when chasing home the exceptional Sea The Stars in the 2009 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Sea The Stars capped a perfect three-year-old campaign with a brilliant two-length victory under veteran Mick Kinane, who retired shortly afterwards. The Cape Cross colt had traversed the season unbeaten with earlier success in the 2,000 Guineas, Investec Derby, Coral-Eclipse Stakes, Juddmonte International Stakes and Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes. He retired from racing after the Arc victory, the highest-rated performer for many years on 136.

His Longchamp win emulated that of his dam, Urban Sea, who prevailed for owners, the Tsui family, in 1992 and he gave trainer John Oxx a second triumph in the race.

In 2010, Epsom Derby hero Workforce bounced back to form to become only the sixth horse to win the Arc in the same year as Britain''s premier Classic. Given a brilliant ride by Ryan Moore, the three-year-old King''s Best colt edged out Japanese raider Nakayam Festa in a thrilling renewal of Longchamp''s showpiece. Workforce''s triumph by a head provided trainer Sir Michael Stoute with his first victory in the race and gave owner Khalid Abdullah a fourth success.

The next Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will take place on Sunday, October 2, 2011, for the 90th time.

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