If we thought we had seen the best of Treve, the winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the two previous occasions, we probably need to think again.
This incredible mare produced an almost freakish exhibition of speed and supremacy at Longchamp yesterday in the Prix Vermeille, a race that was, first and foremost, meant merely to blow the cobwebs away before her day of destiny on 4 October when she attempts to become the first horse to win the Group One race for a third time.
This was the trial Treve was beaten in last year, prompting everyone but her trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek, to write her off. Now, 12 months on, those same glum faces were wreathed in smiles as Treve kept the triple dream alive with a jaw-dropping display.
Half an hour earlier, New Bay, the Prix du Jockey Club winner, had thrown down the gauntlet in the Prix Niel, brushing aside decent opposition to give master trainer André Fabre fond hopes of winning an eighth Arc.
But Treve is the Muhammad Ali of racing and it was as if New Bay’s impressive win stung her into a big response. “Is that all you’ve got?” she seemed to be saying to the young upstart as she powered clear in the home straight under Thierry Jarnet like a Ferrari pulling away from milk floats.
Fabre will know exactly what he’s up against and so, for that matter, will John Gosden, whose Derby winner Golden Horn was beaten by one of those milk floats, Arabian Queen (down the field in sixth here), in the Juddmonte International at York last month.
It seems the biggest threat to Treve is not turning up at Longchamp in top condition – she has been plagued with back and foot problems throughout her career. Certainly, that’s the way the bookmakers see it; it is hard now to find better than even money.
Nobody knows the five-year-old better than Head-Maarek, but even she found it difficult to take in. “I don’t know what to say,” she said. “She’s a fantastic mare and she loves Longchamp.” She did, though, introduce a note of caution for those already inking her name into the record books: “We have seen a very good colt here already today [New Bay] and also in England. The Arc will be a different matter and it’s not won yet.”
Luca Cumani’s Proposed also passed his Arc test in the Prix Foy, but this was a workmanlike performance, nothing like as visually impressive as New Bay, let alone Treve, and Britain’s best hope of spoiling a French party next month may well rest with Gosden’s Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs.
As expected, Aidan O’Brien dominated the juvenile Group Ones at the Curragh, winning the National Stakes with Air Force Blue – now favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas – and saddling a 1-2-3 in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, although not in the order expected as Minding outstayed the hot favourite Ballydoyle.
Order Of St George, withdrawn from the St Leger on Saturday, bolted up instead in the Irish equivalent to complete a productive weekend for O’Brien, but his victory was overshadowed by the death of Brown Panther, owned by Michael Owen. The popular stayer suffered a serious leg injury contesting a race he won 12 months ago. Owen later described it as “the saddest day of my life”.
O’Brien won the Doncaster classic with Bondi Beach in controversial fashion, but connections of runner-up Simple Verse confirmed yesterday they will be appealing against the stewards’ decision to demote their filly from first.
- More about:
- Horse Racing And Harness Racing