Treve, the sensational winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year but written off by just about everyone apart from her trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek, once again took apart a quality field to become the first horse for 36 years to win Europe’s richest race twice yesterday.
The winning margin this time was only two lengths instead of five, but it was another command performance from a quite brilliant filly, one of the all-time greats, celebrated by 47-year-old jockey Thierry Jarnet even before she had crossed the line ahead of Flintshire and the two English Classic winners, Taghrooda and Kingston Hill.
Head-Maarek, encouraged by a sparkling gallop, had been telling everyone who would listen that the Treve we would see at Longchamp yesterday would be the old champion Treve after overcoming feet and back problems, rather than the lame and tame Treve who ran like a crab at Royal Ascot in June and then in her Arc trial last month.
She was right and we were wrong. It was a victory breathtaking in its simplicity, Jarnet’s hair may be thinning, but he has lost none of his skill and composure and he rode the perfect race; tucked in behind the leaders on the rail before engaging Treve’s electric turn of foot to surge clear inside the last quarter mile to make a mockery of the commonly held view that this was the most open Arc for years.
Head-Maarek was overjoyed with this final glorious display from Treve, who will now be retired to Normandy paddocks: “People were saying she was gone, that she should be retired to stud, I heard it all,” she said amid a chaos of hugs, kisses and tears from an entourage who could scarcely believe what they had just seen.
“I could tell that even Sheikh Joann [her owner] was concerned, even though he didn’t actually say anything, but I said ‘please let me do it, don’t rule her out’. And although I still don’t think she was 100 per cent, she did it. She’s very special.”
Head-Maarek is charm personified, but she’s tough, too, and it was at her specific request that Jarnet, her partner 12 months ago before losing the ride to Frankie Dettori, came back on board.
Neither the favourite Taghrooda nor Kingston Hill had the luck of the draw and both ran commendably in the circumstances.
Paul Hanagan said of Taghrooda: “She’s run fantastic. With her draw, I had to get after her early to get a good position. But I just saw this flash on the inside when Treve came through. She’s some horse isn’t she?”
Roger Varian was also thrilled with Kingston Hill, berthed widest of all, and it’s easy to see the St Leger winner doing better still in next year’s Arc given a kinder draw and softer ground, especially with no Treve to contend with. Harp Star fared best of Japan’s three-pronged raid in sixth place after making up an incredible amount of ground in the home straight, but their long wait for a first Arc win goes on.
Elsewhere on a top-quality card, there was mixed luck for Aidan O’Brien with Found cementing her place at the head of next year’s fillies Classics with a convincing win in the Prix Marcel Boussac before Ballydoyle’s 2,000 Guineas hope Gleneagles was demoted to third under strict French rules on interference after passing the post first in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere – another “win” for Head-Maarek on a day she will remember forever.
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