Racing: Rail Link's express finish steals Arc honours from Japan's hero - More Sports - Sport - The Independent

Racing: Rail Link's express finish steals Arc honours from Japan's hero

At this rate, by the time he has finished André Fabre will have produced a winner to rename each of the dozen boulevards meeting round the monument itself. Yesterday le petit general of the French Turf won his seventh Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - not with Hurricane Run or Shirocco, but with Rail Link.

Yet this is one of those rare races that obtained its most memorable flavours from the vanquished. It had seemed the ultimate spectacle for the purists, one that would nearly seem contaminated by a bet. In the event, however, a cyclone of Japanese patriotism swept through the Bois de Boulogne and created the most surreal betting environment anyone present could remember.

Thousands of pilgrims had come to show their fealty to Deep Impact, the greatest champion to have shed the insular habits of Japanese racing. Certain of his invincibility, indifferent to the odds, they queued patiently all afternoon to pour yen into a pari-mutuel pool shared with the best middle-distance field in Europe. Some said that they would not even cash their tickets, preferring to take them home as a souvenir. Others were more purposeful, two individual bets of €1m (£700,000) helping to flood the pool.

Totalisators reflect market forces at their purest, and this spree created opportunist fervour among the British visitors who normally dominate this meeting. Deep Impact, available at nearly 3-1 with the bookmakers in Britain, was suddenly showing 1-10, while Hurricane Run and Shirocco were paying around 16-1. For hours, the place was going berserk with amateur arbitrage. By the time the field went to post, Deep Impact was out to 1-2, and each tier of the crowded stands seemed riven by intense partisanship.

Deep Impact, his flanks gaining richness from the sinking autumn sun, pranced on to the track and was saluted by hundreds of miniature Japanese flags. And when the steady early pace suddenly became more earnest, there was a roar of anticipation as Yutaka Take, alone among the jockeys, remained motionless in the saddle. For a few strides it seemed as though Deep Impact might glide clear, but suddenly it became obvious that the coronation was going to be insolently interrupted. No sooner had Deep Impact put his nose in front, 300 metres out, he was joined by Rail Link and in the end it was Pride, emerging from the rear, who would provide the graver challenge to Stéphane Pasquier, foiled by a diminishing neck.

Deep Impact trudged home in third, beaten another half-length. The depth of Japanese despair could be measured when Take hacked back in front of the stands. This was one of those moments that plainly called for stoical affection, but it must be said that applause was lukewarm at best.

The fact is that Deep Impact ran a very similar race to his compatriot, Heart's Cry, in the King George this summer. It seems pertinent to ask whether Japanese trainers have grasped the importance of a preparatory race in the European racing environment.

No trainer teaches that lesson more strictly than Fabre, of course, and Rail Link had conformed to his classic formula - beating the best of his generation in midsummer, taking a break and then blowing away the cobwebs in the trials over course and distance three weeks ago.

Rail Link is the seventh winner of the Prix Niel to follow up in the Arc during the past decade. Three-year-olds overall have now won 11 of the past 13 Arcs, and there will doubtless be those who feel that the weight-for-age scale should be revised in accordance with the new British legislation concerning age discrimination.

"It's just part of the chain to win the Arc again," Fabre shrugged. "But of course I'm delighted, I'm very proud - and very proud for the horse. It is always great to beat older ones with a three-year-old."

While his strengths and foibles are long familiar, Rail Link also hastened the emergence of the tearful Pasquier, whose principal commitment at 28 is to the Daniel Wildenstein string, and Dansili, the winner's remarkable young sire.

Rail Link had arrived as the junior of Fabre's three runners, but the trainer's Shirocco was only sixth, ultimately eased on this quick ground, while his Hurricane Run found the rail blocked and lost vital momentum before regrouping for fourth. "It was a messy race, they went no pace and the ground was too lively for him," Kieren Fallon said of last year's winner. The British runner, Sixties Icon, trailed in last.

Though he failed to retrieve the Midas touch on Hurricane Run, Fallon had earlier found all the right breaks on Holy Roman Emperor, whose convincing success in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère sets up a gripping rematch with Teofilo in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Aidan O'Brien felt that the colt had "improved hand over fist" since his defeat by Teofilo at the Curragh last time. "He's getting better with every run," the trainer said. "Racing brings out the best in him."

Teofilo's trainer, Jim Bolger, responded in the fillies' equivalent, the Prix Marcel Boussac, with an even more resounding winner in Finsceal Beo. The filly showed huge improvement here and was introduced in to Stan James 1,000 Guineas betting at 12-1 by the sponsor. By the end of the day, however, the last thing anyone wanted to hear about was a betting opportunity.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week