There was a storm brewing in the air before the one that was to be played out on the ground. It seemed as if it must be the story of the hurricane. It was.
Hurricane Run was the victor in the 84th Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but he had to survive a maelstrom of a race to do so. With just two behind him on the turn into the straight and horses crashing everywhere, his cause looked lost. But then when you are going through a tempest there is no better man to have at the wheel than Kieren Fallon.
The Irish jockey has never had a better day in his sporting life, even by his own assessment. The Arc was the last of Fallon's three successive Group One victories on the day and, remarkably, the breaking of his virginity in this end-of-season championship event.
As you saw the maestro go about his work, the wonderment was not why he had not won this race before, but why he does not win it every year. His and Hurricane Run's trail up the straight in the Bois de Boulogne was a feat of the greatest daring.
"I was worried because there were a lot of horses in front of me," Fallon said. "There was a lot of interference, but I avoided it. It usually opens up in the straight here. It was very rough on my left so I went right and it all opened up for me.
"It's the best way to ride this track. If you go round the outside you lose too much ground. You take risks coming up the inside, but eight times out of 10 it works. You just say twist and have a go.
"To overcome the run that he got today, and to be able to quicken like he did at the end of the race shows how good he is. It doesn't get better than this."
Longchamp was intermittently visited by rain and sunshine yesterday. The autumn showers of the last few days meant the ground was, in the local vernacular, bon à souple, 3.3 on the penetrometer. It was good to soft in another tongue. The Arc itself was good to brilliant.
All notions of a slow, tactical race disappeared at an early moment when the pacemakers Windya and Voltmeter flew to the lead. The French filly Shawanda was clamped on the rail, with her fellow Classic winner Motivator in the slipstream. Hurricane Run too was on the fence, but there was only one behind and his progress was noticeably awkward after being bumped at the start.
In the straight, Shawanda went to the lead but gradually drifted off a true course. That allowed Motivator a window of opportunity and he had to take it. The Derby winner darted through on the inside, but had been forced to use his cracker of energy too early.
Motivator led 300m out, but was a weakening force 100m later. "If it was over at the furlong pole I would have won," Johnny Murtagh, his jockey, said. "But there was no let-up today. It was a true mile and a half and he didn't get it."
This was the crushing of Motivator's remaining claim to greatness. The Blue Riband winner had never been beaten at a mile and a half before and the balmy day at Epsom in June now seemed so far away and maybe even an optical illusion.
There was even a suggestion that this might have been Motivator's last race. "I thought he had it in the bag," Michael Bell, his trainer, said. "It was just unfortunate that the gap came a little too soon. Johnny had to set him alight to get him through that gap. He had to take it. If we do go again we would hang on to him until the very last minute."
Motivator faltered but hung on for fifth as he was passed by Westerner, Bago and Shirocco. He was passed fastest, however, by Hurricane Run, who was carried along by a combination of enticement and muscle by Fallon. At the line the partnership was two lengths clear. André Fabre, the multiple champion French trainer, had won his sixth Arc.
Hurricane Run was bought before his victorious run in the Irish Derby by John Magnier's midas empire at Coolmore. The bay colt advertised not only himself yesterday but also his sire, Montjeu, the new celebrity stallion in Co Tipperary. It was almost possible to see a smile playing around Magnier's lips.
"I was very worried when I saw him [Hurricane Run] at the back," he said. "I thought he had no chance. I thought he was out of the race to be honest.
"But then you never know with Kieren. He is a master of all circumstances and he's at the height of his powers at the moment. It's just a lucky day for us."Reuse content