Zarkava beguiles as Paris hails new queen of the turf

If passion drives you, said Benjamin Franklin, let reason hold the reins. But he had conflict in mind, not love, and this was not the time or place for reason. The triumph of Zarkava and Christophe Soumillon in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe yesterday was instead a crescendo of reckless joy, un grand amour between two of the most bewitching talents in French Turf history.

Seldom can even this city have witnessed the sort of ardour that garlanded a dank, drizzly autumn afternoon in the Bois de Boulogne with a whole springtime of new memories. For those present will never forget the consummation of this partnership – the way Soumillon first declared his fidelity, for all the world to see, and then exulted in Zarkava's own, fervent response.

The filly had come here unbeaten, but not unquestioned. She had not run against colts before, and her rehearsal over this course last month had introduced disquiet about her temperament after she planted herself and granted the rest a six-length start. Surely she could not afford to approach the world's richest turf prize quite so capriciously.

Before the race, Zarkava seemed to be caricaturing gender, strutting among the brawny males, flicking her ears. The romantics applauded her to the start, but it was the worldly doubters who first sensed vindication. From her awkward inside draw, she had veered into 13th or 14th of 16; moreover it was already apparent that she would need luck to break from the rail. But Soumillon never wavered.

With the audacity of infatuation, he kept her on the inside as the field entered the final turns. Though others were already under pressure, notably Duke Of Marmalade, she was still moving with seductive ease. Sure enough, in the straight Zarkava was able to sway into the gaps, like a woman who knows perfectly well that she looks a million dollars, but does not object to being told so. For one moment, Ioritz Mendizabal thought he could trap Soumillon on Vision D'Etat; the next, they were gone. Every instinct had insisted that only one of the true greats would be able to win from where Zarkava started her run; in the end, she won by two lengths, and Soumillon had again been able to keep his whip hidden away, like a husband's guilty secret.

The others, even the most gallant, became mere footnotes – even Youmzain, who forced Dylan Thomas to a photo last year, and again excelled in second, not for the first time finding trouble in running. Soldier Of Fortune plugged on to share third with It's Gino, and might have done better still on softer ground. Duke Of Marmalade, however, disappointed in seventh, and perhaps his long season is telling.

Soumillon's ecstasy was meanwhile untrammelled. To the usual, narcissistic flourishes – the finger-pointing, the blown kisses – he added a gesture of rapture, hammering his ribcage. Then he tossed his helmet into the crowd, which might not win him Pony Club approval, but gave him a suitably tousled look on his return.

Only Dalakhani, his 2003 Arc winner, had ever approached her brilliance. "She gave me the same extraordinary sensation," he said. "They are the two horses of my life. They will be engraved in everyone's memory forever. I always said I would win the Arc with her, but we needed a good run, which is never guaranteed. But we got a passage through at a crucial moment. She's a real jewel. We won't see another filly like this for 25 or 30 years."

Zarkava is the first of her sex to win the Arc since Urban Sea in 1993, and the first three-year-old filly since 1982. Her fulfilment is the work of a masterly trainer in Alain de Royer-Dupré, who paid decorous tribute to the help of an employee named Pierre Goral. "She has a very fluid way of moving and an ease of acceleration, in just a couple of strides, which is incredible," he said. "I have never seen her in difficulty. I'm very lucky to train such a great filly."

That sense of good fortune may yet be shared by the public next season, as the Aga Khan offered no view on his filly's future beyond the fact that she will not go to the Breeders' Cup. "Today is the apogee for a breeding operation which dates back 90 years, and for five generations of my family," he said.

The afternoon began at the other end of the spectrum, with the Hungarian colt Overdose scorching five furlongs in 54.5 seconds in the Prix de l'Abbaye. He had cost just 2,000 guineas as a yearling. Unfortunately, Fleeting Spirit's stall had malfunctioned and Overdose's jockey missed the red flag. The race was run again in the gloaming, but Overdose was spent and did not line up; instead Marchand D'Or, already a multiple Group One winner, completed an extraordinary day for the Head family.

It was a harrowing experience for the adventurers who "had come 1,700 kilometres for nothing". For a while, the Turf seemed a cruel world, innocent of all romance. But then passion seized the reins.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties