The locals and, indeed, most neutrals from this side of the English Channel turned up in their droves at Longchamp yesterday yearning and expecting to see Treve make history with a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory, but instead witnessed one of the finest rides in the race’s great history as Frankie Dettori stole the show aboard Golden Horn.
Two years ago, Dettori, nursing a broken ankle, famously said that he needed extra painkillers for his broken heart after watching Treve, whom he would have ridden, win the 2013 Arc in spectacular fashion, while last year he was ‘jocked off’ following a Royal Ascot defeat at the insistence of trainer Criquette Head-Maarek.
So though, by Dettori standards, celebrations were slightly restrained in the Paris sunshine, we can be sure that the three-time champion jockey was bursting with pride and satisfaction inside, his day made complete by a hug from his son Leo, making the trip to celebrate his 16th birthday.
Dettori’s belief in the Derby winner Golden Horn was every bit as strong as almost everyone else’s in Treve – and nowhere was that faith demonstrated more than at the start of the world’s richest turf race when, from his wide draw, he made the first of two crucial tactical decisions.
He appeared to have two choices: stay wide and lose ground, or drop in and ride for luck. But Dettori found a third way – stay wide without losing ground.
“Everybody was determined to make me sit behind,” he said. “But I said, ‘why?’ I’m on the best horse. Let me get out there and show the world how good he is’.”
Dettori kept Golden Horn so wide for the first furlong that the rest must have wondered what he was playing at, but this was part of the plan. Trainer John Gosden, enjoying his first Arc success, elaborated: “If you stay wide, you can ride your own little race, not be bothered by anyone, and then slot across.”
Golden Horn was then able to track Treve’s pacemaker, Shahah, close to the rail, while the great mare herself, nicely drawn in stall eight, was now out wide and nearer last than first, in exactly the sort of position the winner might have found himself in had Dettori not made such an intelligent early move.
Then it was just choosing the right moment to kick for home – and the 44-year-old veteran of three previous Arc triumphs has been around the Longchamp block enough times to know when to press the ‘go’ button. “As Frankie says, ‘if you don’t kick at the right time here they come like arrows at your back,” said Gosden.
Dettori made his second decisive move early in the home straight and though Andre Fabre’s pair Flintshire and New Bay made a decent fist of chasing him down, neither looked like catching him. “I thought it would be impossible for anything to overtake me in the last 300 metres,” said Dettori. “He put to bed a great Arc like a superstar.”
Treve, though plugging on into fourth, did not seem happy on ground described by most as good to firm. The glorious autumn weather was certainly not to her liking
“She was a bit keen and never quite in the right spot,” explained Al Shaqab Racing’s manager Harry Herbert, who expects Treve to now be retired. “She has given us all a lot of fun; ups and downs, but mainly ups. I’m sure she’s done her stuff now, but hopefully she will become a wonderful broodmare.”
Golden Horn will begin his stud duties next year, but may have one more run before he retires, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.Reuse content