On Sunday 6th October 2019, ParisLongchamp will host the 98th edition of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. In 2018 this Group 1 was once again voted as the World’s Best Race. The history of the ‘Arc’, as it is known, is full of great stories… And here are some of them.
Lanfranco Dettori, winning-most jockey of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe… And riding the 2019 favourite!
He is full of Italian extravagance and is a showman at heart. Jockey Lanfranco "Frankie" Dettori is one of racing’s living legends: along with Irish jump jockey Ruby Walsh, who recently retired, they are the only jockeys whose names are regularly lifted in song by his fans. For Ruby Walsh, it is the well-known Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby Ruby!). For Frankie, it is his full name (Lanfranco Dettori) sung to the rhythm of the riff from Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.
Frankie Dettori is the winning-most jockey of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and he has also won the last two editions of this race, partnered with the Champion filly Enable. His first success in this race came in 1995, with Lammtarra. In 2001, he won onboard Sakhee and he retained the race the following year in 2002 with Marienbard. He then had to wait until 2015 for his next Arc success, with Golden Horn. Followed by Enable in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, he will attempt to win the race for an unprecedented third year running with Enable, another line in the history books. No horse has ever won the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three times, let alone consecutively. However, Enable could well prove stronger than the statistics. On the 16th May 2019, although she has yet to make her seasonal bow, Enable is already toted as favourite for the 2019 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by the bookmakers.
Urban Sea, winner of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1993… and in 2018!
On the 3rd October 1993, a small chesnut filly won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Her name was Urban Sea, and she was owned by the Tsui family and trained by Jean Lesbordes. At the time, the racing crowd were unanimous: Urban Sea was not a great Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner and this edition would not be one for the history books… Time has proven them wrong!
At stud, Urban Sea became an exceptional broodmare. She is the dam of a Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner: in 2009, her son Sea the Stars proved to be the world’s best racehorse after an outstanding season in which he won the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby, the Eclipse, the York International, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Like his dam, Sea the Stars carried the colours of the Tsui family… Sea the Stars now stands at stud. In 2018, one of his daughters lined up in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: Sea of Class, again in the Tsui family silks! Small and chesnut, as was her grand-dam Urban Sea, Sea of Class finished second in the Arc, going down by just a short head to Enable. Sea of Class showed an unbelievable turn of foot in the home straight, passing out nearly the entire field, but coming up against an exceptional filly at the end. In 2019, Enable and Sea of Class will once again be going head to head in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Even though Sea of Class was beaten that day, Urban Sea was the greatest winner of the 2019 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: the blue-ribbon matriarch appeared in the pedigrees of the first eight horses home in 2018! An extraordinary feat.
- Enable (first): she is by Nathaniel. Nathaniel is a son of Galileo. The dam of Galileo is Urban Sea.
- Sea of Class (second): her sire is Sea the Stars, a son of Urban Sea (and so brother to Galileo).
- Cloth of Stars (third): like Sea of Class, he was sired by Sea the Stars, son of Urban Sea. Cloth of Stars went to stud in 2019 at Haras to Logis in France. The legend of Urban Sea will continue to expand through his progeny.
- Waldgeist (fourth): he is a son of Galileo and so a grandson of Urban Sea through his sire line.
- Capri (fifth): like Waldgeist, he is a son of Galileo.
- Salouen (sixth): his dam, Gali Gal, is a daughter of Galileo so a grand-daughter of Urban Sea through her paternal line.
- Kew Gardens (seventh): like Waldgeist and Capri, a son of Galileo.
- Nelson (eighth): he is a son of Frankel, himself a son of Galileo. Thus he is a great-grandson of Urban Sea. Frankel, unbeaten in fourteen starts during his racing career, is considered as the greatest racehorse of all time.
The dream and the curse of Japan
In Japan the jockey Yutaka Take, who is fifty years old, is a star. In his home country he is as famous as any football player in Europe. Yutaka Take has a dream: to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His country shares this dream. He once said “As soon as I said I dreamed of winning the Arc, the others followed me. Before I began to talk about it, there were not very many people in Japan who had the idea of aiming for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. I began talking about it around twenty years ago: I rode in my first Arc in 1994. I was riding White Muzzle. Since that day, I have dreamed of winning this race. Before then, I had watched the Arc on the television, read articles in the paper. When I rode in the race in 1994, all this came to life, and it was if I was riding in a fairy-tale.”
Japan has already fielded runners in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe before Yutaka Take began dreaming of the race. Very few however: Speed Symboli took his chance in 1969, finishing in eleventh place. In 1972, Mejiro Musashi finished eighteenth; in 1986, Sirius Symboli fourteenth. It was a different time, and these days travelling horses from Japan to Europe is much easier. The main relations between Japan and the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe began in 1999. The beginning of a dream… and of a curse, say some.
In 1999, the Japanese Champion El Condor Pasa lined up in the Arc. He accelerated sharply coming out of the final turn and pulled clear. Two hundred meters from the finishing post he was still in the lead. However his main adversary, the champion Montjeu, ran the race of his life and meter by meter made up the ground to win by half a length. El Condor Pasa was second.
In 2006, Japan sent the best racehorse they had ever seen to France. A champion: his name- Deep Impact. There were only seven facing him and Deep Impact looked unbeatable. The Japanese fans invaded ParisLongchamp to watch what they thought would be a historic moment. But the unthinkable happened: Deep Impact was beaten, finishing third. Even worse, he was then disqualified for a positive drug test. Deep Impact had been ill a few days before the Arc and his metabolism had not entirely eliminated the traces of the medication.
In 2012, Japan sent another champion: Orfèvre. An immense talent, but with the grain of madness that walks hand in hand with greatness. Orfèvre, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, gave us the most intense Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in recent times. Coming out of the final turn, he was still in last place. He passed out the field with disconcerting ease, taking the lead! « He’s done it ! », though an entire country. No, Orfèvre is unpredictable. We can never know what happened in the horse’s mind, but he threw himself on the rail, losing speed. Behind him, jockey Olivier Peslier, riding Solemia, saw his chance: he sent his filly in pursuit of the Japanese horse. She caught him, passed him by, and beat him. The curse had struck again. The cruelty of the thing did not stop there: French jockey Olivier Peslier had ridden for many years in Japan during the winter months, and is adored by the country. And he ended their dream.
For 2019, seven Japanese horses are entered in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Seven reasons to dream.
|Japanese runners in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe|
|1969||6||Speed Symboli||11th||J. Winter||Y. Nohira|
|1972||5||Mejiro Musashi||18th||T. Kitano||Y. Nohira|
|1986||4||Sirius Sykmboli||14 th||F. Palmer||M. Philipperon|
|1999||4||El Condor Pasa||2nd||Y. Ninomiya||M. Ebina|
|2002||4||Manhattan Cafe||13th||F. Kojima||M. Ebina|
|2004||7||Tap Dance City||17th||S. Sasaki||T. Sato|
|2006||4||Deep Impact||Disq.||Y. Ikee||Y. Take|
|2080||5||Meisho Samson||10th||S. Takahaski||Y. Take|
|2010||4||Nakayama Festa||2nd||Y. Ninomiya||M. Ebina|
|2010||3||Victoire Pisa||7th||K. Sumii||Y. Take|
|2011||5||Nakayama Festa||11th||Y. Ninomiya||M. Ebina|
|2011||4||Hirono d'Amour||10th||M. Kon||S. Fujita|
|2012||4||Orfevre||2nd||Y. Ikee||C. Soumillon|
|2012||8||Aventino||17th||Y. Ikee||A. Crastus|
|2013||5||Orfevre||2nd||Y. Ikee||C. Soumillon|
|2013||3||Kizuna||4th||S. Sasaki||Y. Take|
|2014||3||Harp Star||6th||H. Matsuda||Y. Kawada|
|2014||5||Just A Way||8th||N. Sugai||Y. Fukunaga|
|2014||5||Gold Ship||14th||N. Sugai||N. Yokoyama|
|2016||3||Makahiki||14th||Y. Tomomichi||C.-P. Lemaire|
|2017||4||Satono Diamond||15th||Y. Ikee||C.-P. Lemaire|
|2017||7||Satono Noblesse||16th||Y. Ikee||Y. Kawada|
|2018||4||Clincher||17th||H. Miyamoto||Y. Take|