would cut the number of runners allowed to run in the main Arc de Triomphe race to twenty and the runners would be selected by their handicap ratings. Francois Gaffard, the French trainer who had been given the task to win with the eight time Group 1 winner in the Antipodes – Verry Elleegant – was judged not to have a good enough rating and therefore would not be able to run. It was no surprise that this caused fury from Gaffard and the owners of the Australian mare; however, the 7 year old mare had run in three European Group 1 races earlier over the summer and had not scored. The second managerial decision taken by the clerk of the course at Longchamp was to water heavily three days before the weekend’s racing, despite the weather forecast suggesting that there would be a considerable amount of rain in the two days preceding the event. When they started to water, the ground was given as ‘good to soft’; by the time they had finished it was given as ‘soft’.
On the first of two days racing, there were two Group 1 races, the first was a 1 mile 6 furlong (2000 m) race for 3 year olds and up for mares and fillies only; The Qatar Prix de Royallieu. There were 8 runners. The two stand out runners were Veery Elleegant who had her plans changed at the last minute and Sea La Rosa, trained un the UK by William Haggas. Taking her chance for her first Group 1 success, Sea La Rosa had won her previous two outings, both at Group level. France Galop may have had good reason not to allow Veery Elleegent to run in the Arc itself as she didn’t run well in this race. She was beaten into 7th place having always been in the rear and produced nothing when asked. Perhaps it was the ground which finished her off as it was ‘very soft’ after the early week watering and a deluge of rain since. The race was won by Sea La Rosa, who was up with the pace throughout and when asked by Tom Marquand for some effort, the filly went on strongly and won by a length. The second home was Jannah Flower trained by Pascal Bary and ridden by Stephane Pasquier. Kept near the rear for most of the race, she came with a strong run to finish but not good enough to take the winner. The third home was Ottilien, a French bred horse but like the winner is trained in the UK by Frenchman David Meniusier. Ottilien was ridden by Olivier Peslier.
The second Group 1 was another longer distanced race – The Qatar Prix de Cadran over 2 ½ miles. In this there were 12 runners. The stand out runner was the Aidan O’Brien trained Kyprios, unbeaten in his five outings this year including winning The Ascot Gold Cup in June. Although Kyprios won, he did his very best not even to finish the race but return to the stables just before the finish line – despite his massive lead at the time. However, Ryan Moore managed to get a hold of him and using the rail, keep him on the course to take the win by a massive 20 lengths. He took the lead at the 4 furlong marker and just kept going! The second home was Almacardo Gree, French trained by B. Audouin and ridden by Tony Piccone. Third home was Tashkhan trained by Brian Eddison in the UK.
Meanwhile at Newmarket, the ninth European Group1took place for the mares and fillies over 1 mile for 3 year olds and up – The Royal Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. There were nine runners including the 4 year old Saffron Beach winner of a Group 1 at Deauville in the summer and winner of six other races. Saffron Beech was nowhere to be seen – she just didn’t run at all and was nearly last. William Buick, the jockey said afterwards that the filly seemed to have nothing there at all. This can happen with fillies in the autumn, and they can come back, but certainly, trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam will have some sleepless nights now wondering whether she should send the filly to the Breeders Cup as her final race now? The race was won by the Kevin Ryan trained Fonteyn with recently returned jockey from Hong Kong – Neil Callan on board. They won by ¾ of a length from Laurel for John and Thady Gosden. They also trained the third home, Grande Dame.
Back to Longchamp for the second day of racing in which all six of the races were Group 1s. The ground had remained ‘very soft’ after the predicted rain did not materialise. The first two were for two year olds. The first for colts and fillies – The Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over 7 furlongs (1400 m) had eight runners. Aiden O’Brien, who has almost made this race his own in recent years had just one runner, the second in his last race at Newmarket – The Antarctic. This was an open race with predictions of the winner was hard as there were several runners with a chance. 4 of the runners were French trained with the best of those looking like Tigrais trained by Christopher Head. Travelling from Ballydoyle to Longchamp, The Antarctic pulled a shoe off, and despite having it replaced at Longchamp, the vets decided that the horse was lame and was withdrawn. This made the race very open for the seven runners remaining. Belbek won it for the French, only the fourth Group 1 in France this year won by a French trained horse. Trained by veteran trainer Andre Fabre and ridden by Michael Barzalona, the horse was near the front throughout and when asked went on to win by a neck from Gamestop, another French trained horse and ridden by Maxime Guyon for Christophe Ferland. This was another near the front but just didn’t have enough to take the race. The third home was Breizh Sky.
The second of the two year old races was the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac for fillies only over 1 mile. (1600 m). There were 12 runners for this contest including Kelina and Habana, both fillies having had just two runs each and both unbeaten. Kelina was trained by Christophe Laffon-Parias in France and Habana trained by Herr Wohler from Germany. Again, this was another very open race with others thought to have a decent chance were Wed and Never Ending Story – the first trained in France by Maurizio Guarniero and the latter by Aiden O’Brien. Christopher Head was the winning trainer for France with Blue Rose Cen ridden by Aurelien Lemaitre who like the winner of the previous race was always well up with the pace. The filly took the lead 1 ½ furlongs from the finish and came up the inside to win by 5 lengths. The second and third were both Irish trained. The second was from Jim Bolger – Gan Teorainn ridden by Kevin Manning and third was Never Ending Story from Aidan O’Brien ridden by Ryan Moore.
The third race was The Qatar Prix du l’Arc de Triomphe, a race worth nearly 2 ½ million pounds to the winner. There was a full complement of 20 runners, following the change in the rules for this year. Among the hopefuls were last year’s winner Torquator Tasso, whose last run was at Baden Baden in the Grosse Preis von Baden Group 1, when he was second with Frankie Dettori on board. Frankie was booked to ride him on this occasion. Torquator Tasso’s only other run since winning this race in 2021 was at Ascot in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Group 1 when he was again second. The Japanese, who have coveted this race almost since time began, but who have never won it, had 4 runners. Titleholder was probably their best chance, but with ground as heavy as it was, it could be anyone’s for the taking. Aidan O’Brien ran Luxembourg, who won the Irish Champion Stakes last time out and was thought to have the pedigree and ability to run in a 1 ½ mile race for the first time and win. One we liked at HorseView was the Sir Mark Prescott trained Alpinista, a filly who last time out won the Yorkshire Oaks over the same distance and in ground which was on the soft side of good. Jean Claude-Rouget had one runner for the Aga Khan – Vadeni; like many of The Aga’s horses, bred just for this race?
Just before the race, the heavens opened and it teamed with rain until the end of the race with horses, owners, jockeys, trainers and handlers all getting soaking wet. The Japanese horse, Titleholder took a strong lead until 2 furlongs out when the petrol ran out allowing others to go ahead. Luke Morris riding Alpinistra was always quite close up. Morris rode on the inside and squeezed through a gap to take the lead a furlong from home and won for the 74 old trainer Sir Mark Prescott, his finest moment in the 53 years he has been training in Newmarket. This was the 5 year old mare’s fifth Group 1 win in a row for owner breeder Kirsten Rousing. As soon as the race was over the sun came out. The second home was Vadini for Jean Claude-Rouget and currently disgraced jockey Christophe Soumillon. He was beaten by the winner by ½ a length. Soumillon, just two days before this race actually elbowed a fellow jockey off during a race at St Cloud, causing Rossi Ryan to fall off. Soumillon was handed a 60 day ban for his efforts although many thought, including France Galop, that he should have been banned immediately after the race in question and for longer. The third horse home was last year’s winner Torquator Tasso.
The Prix de l’Opera over 1 mile 2 furlongs, (2000 m) was next for fillies and mares, with 16 runners. This was another open race with several with claims. Joseph O’Brien had Above The Curve, winner of her last two runs including The Prix St Alary, Group1 at the track in May this year. Probably the best was Nashwa, winner of four of her five races this season including the Prix de Diane, the French Oaks Group 1. However, she would find very different ground conditions for this contest. Tuesday, trained by Aidan O’Brien was also in the line-up, but she has been really quite disappointing thus far this year, so although must have had a chance, the reality was her winning this race was unlikely. Once again, the maestro of French training Andre Fabre produced the winner of this race with Michael Barzalona winning on Place du Carrousel by ¾ length from Nashwa. The third home was Above The Curve, just a short head behind the second. The distances were ¾ of a length between the first and second and just a short head between the second and third. Considering the ground conditions, it was more like a blanket finish!
The Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp was up next, another Group 1, this time over the shortest distance of 5 furlongs. This race is run through the middle of the course, and is the only race to do so. The race is usually won by a raider and there have been years when the French simply did not have a runner. This year, they had just two from Christophe Lerner out of the 18 runners. In the dash down the middle of the course, at least on fresh ground – even if it was rather wet and heavy, Richard Fahey trained the winner with Hollie Doyle riding The Platinum Queen – just a 2 year old. Another British trained horse came second in the shape of White Lavender trained by Karl Burke, beaten by a short head ridden by Clifford Lee. The third horse home was Coeur de Pierre trained by Spanish trainer M.Delcher-Sanchez and ridden by Tony Picconi.
The final Group 1 of the day was The Qatar Prix de la Foret. There were 10 runners under starter’s orders for this 7 furlong race. The stand out two in this was Tenebrism for Aidan O’Brien and Kinross for Ralph Beckett. The best of the French trained horses appeared to be Fang, trained by Jean Claude-Rouget. Frankie Dettori took this by 2 lengths with Kinross from Malavath; trained in France by Francois Gaffard ridden by Christophe Soumillon. The top three home were all well up with the pace including the Japanese trained Entscheiden who came third. Tenebrism came fifth and Fang was seventh.
So, although there were some French trained winners, the meeting rather left French trainers bereft of Group 1 wins in their own country this year.
images courtesy Lanwades Stud, France Galop,Coolmore Stud
The editor Bernard Simpson has been involved with horses and the industry for over 40 years. Together with his wife, he bred many flat racehorses including some which were Royal Ascot winners. He is also experienced in equine media using video, photography and journalism. Bernard currently lives in Wiltshire. He and guest authors now present this blog and hope you like our articles.
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