Shock as German Raider Torquator Tasso Wins Arc – One of Nineteen Group 1 Races Worldwide
The first weekend in October is always particularly anticipated with the running of the annual Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe race in Paris and this year’s renewal was set to be a vintage one and provide a shock result. It also has traditionally become one of the weekends with the most Group 1 races run all over the globe; no less than nineteen! At Longchamp, it was the one hundredth running of the Prix Arc de Triomphe and the race was again surrounded by top class races for all ages and sexes, mostly Group 1s at the track.
As usual, the Qatar Prix de L’arc de Triomphe, worth nearly £2.6 million to the winner, attracted a very international field. Unusually, there were only four of the 15 runners trained in France. On the morning of the race, Aidan O’Brien pulled out one of his charges, – Love, siting the filly had a temperature the previous evening. He had two left, Snow Fall, one of the very fancied runners, and Broome.
The two talking horses before the race were both 3 year olds and both Derby winners this year, and both owned by Godolphin and trained by Charlie Appleby in Newmarket. Adayar (Epsom Derby) and Hurricane Lane (Irish Derby and Doncaster St Ledger) No horse has won both the Derby at Epsom, The King George at Ascot and The Arc in the same year as a 3 year old since Lammtarra in 1995; and no horse had ever won the St Ledger and Arc in the same year. This was a strong renewal of the race, as you would expect, and some even said that it was the strongest renewal for at least ten years, but the ground would certainly sort out the men from the boys as the ground was heavy going! The Japanese had high hopes for this race, a race they have been trying and nearly succeeding to win for decades, but never quite getting there. Would their top filly Crono Genisis be the one. No. Despite Oisin Murphy riding the Japanese hope ran very wide in the early stages to keep out of trouble, and he was in the thrash out at the end between all the main expected protagonists, but on the outside, coming from apparently nowhere, the German raider Torquator Tasso came through right from the back of the field to win.
This was a horse who everyone thought would still be running a couple of days later and so this win was frankly a huge shock. He is trained by first season trainer Marcel Weiss in Germany and ridden by Rene Piechulek, his first run in the race; and looking at his face after he had won, it was clearly not the position he expected to be in! Tarnawa, trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, (who despite all his success globally, has never won the Arc) was second ridden by Christophe Soumillon and Hurricane Lane in third. The race was slow by Arc race standards but the result certainly flawed everyone. It must have been extra satisfying for the German connections to win a race like this, as an 80 to 1 outsider and prove all the experts and pundits completely wrong and piss on all their parades!!!! Congratulations to them.
The weekend started with two Group 1s at Longchamp, the Prix du Cadran, a race for 4 year olds and up over 2 miles 4 furlongs, (4000 m), one of the longest flat races in the calendar anywhere in the world. There were 13 who lined up for this marathon from trainers in Ireland, England, France and Germany. Stamina was certainly necessary as the ground, rather as usual for the Arc weekend in Paris, was heavy and with autumnal rain and high winds adding to the mix, the experience for the racing of horses and people alike was not necessarily the most pleasant one. Stradivarius, quite possibly running his last race was always going to have a tough job to beat this decent field of long distance runners, and so it proved. He set off in the lead for a short time until Frankie Dettori pulled him back but always racing prominently on ground he didn’t like. He pulled clear at the 4 furlong marker to take the lead but Trueshan, trained by Alan King from the UK and ridden by James Doyle was always in mid division was set free by his jockey 2 furlongs out and relished the conditions to win by over 4 lengths from The Strad. The third home was Bubble Smart, the first home for the French.
The second of the Group 1 races, another fairly long distance gruelling test was The Prix de Royallieu with 10 runners over 1 mile 6 furlongs.(3600 m) for 3 year old mares and fillies and up. In this race, trainers John and Thady Gosden and Frankie Dettori had better luck with Loving Dream who won by a short head having led from pillar to post, in a close run race with Believe In Love in second trained by Roger Varian and ridden by Andrea Atzeni and the favourite Valia for France taking the third spot.
The main course for this extravagant French weekend of racing had no less than six Group 1 races on the card. The first two were for two year olds only, the Prix Marcel Boussac for fillies only over a mile (1600m). There were 9 runners in this, including the unbeaten Fabre filly Raclette. However, Raclette was withdrawn shortly before the race and as favourite for the contest, the field became wide open. Never fear when Andre Fabre has a second runner in a race, she is likely to be as good as the headliner; and so it proved as Zellie took the race with Oisin Murphy on board.
Oisin kept the filly at the back for most of the race before making a late run, and despite hanging hard to the right, took the race by 1 ¾ lengths going away. This win was her sire, Wotton Bassett’s fifth Group 1 winner. Times Square took the second having been kept in a prominent position throughout with Oscula coming third. The second of the two year old races was for colts and geldings only over 7 furlongs (1400m), the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere with 9 runners. There were two unbeaten colts in this, both trained in France – Accakaba for Christophe Fermand and Rocchigiani for Andre Fabre. Angel Bleu took this one for Ralph Beckett and jockey Frankie Dettori winning by ¾ of a length. Frankie kept the horse in mid field throughout before unleashing a perfectly timed run, so despite Frankie having no run in the Arc as Love had been scratched, he did get his name on the board for arc day. In second was Noble Truth from the Appleby stable and Ancient Rome was third for Andre Fabre, another stalwart with no runner in the Arc race itself. Almost unheard of!
In the three Group 1 races to follow the Arc, there was first up, The Prix L’Opera for fillies and mares over 1 mile 2 furlongs (2000m). There were 14 runners. Cedric Rossi trained Rougir ridden by Maxime Guyon to win this in another blanket finish by a nose from Grand Glory trained in France by Gianluca Bietolini with Eidaimonia coming third. The Prix de l’Abbey followed, and is the sprint race for the meeting, a dash of five furlongs, (1000m) in a track across the middle of the Longchamp park. There were 15 in this race.
It was won by a short head by Irish trained A Case Of You who was mid division until the final furlong when the colt pulled clear. The winner is trained by Adrian McGuiness and ridden by Ronan Whelan. Second home was Air De Valse trained by Mme Barande-Barbe and ridden by Ronan Thomas who was 5 lengths ahead of third home – Glass Slippers. The final Group 1 for the day, (and surely that’s enough,) was the Qatar Prix de la Foret, a 7 furlong race (1400m) for 3 year olds and up in which 15 runners went to the start. Charlie Appleby and William Buick took this last Group 1 race by 2 lengths with Space Blues. The second home was Pearls Galore trained in Ireland by Patrick Twomey and the Japanese entry Entscheiden was third by a further ¾ of a length.
To sum up, the Arc winner Torquator Tasso, was a shock – that there was no doubt. He is German bred by Adlerflug out of a mare by Toylsome, a British bred stallion by Cadeaux Genereux. He was sold as a yearling at the Baden Baden sales in 2018 for just 24,000 euros to Gestut Auenquelle. He was bred by Paul Vanderberg who no doubt will relish his breeder’s prize of over 100,000 euros?
In Newmarket, the one Group 1 was the King of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes for 3 year olds and up over 1 mile (2400m) and this attracted 12 runners. The going at Newmarket was given as good, and so it was before a deluge of rain and high winds made the ground very slimy on top which surprisingly did not affect the going. This was a very strong renewal with Mother Earth, the 1000 Guineas winner this year and Snow Lantern among other top fillies of the year taking part. Saffron Beach, who had been placed in several classics and Group 1 races but never a winner, took the lead under William Buick and kept it to pass the winning post in first. The filly is trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam and this was her first Group 1 victor ever. The second home was Mother Earth for Aidan O’Brien ridden by Ryan Moore and third was Dreamloper.
There were further Group 1 races in the United States at Santa Anita, The Rodeo Drive Stakes, the Awesome Again Stakes and the American Pharaoh Stakes, all three run on the dirt and the first two for 3 year olds over just over a mile. (2400 m) The Rodeo Stakes was taken by Going To Vegas for trainer Richard Baltas by a short head from Luck with the third horse Dogtag leading the 9 runners home. Their 2 year old offering was the Pharaoh Stakes over 1 mile ½ a furlong and was won quite easily by Corniche trained by Bob Baffert ridden by Mike Smith; leading home the 7 runners in the race. The final of the trio of Group 1 races at Santa Anita was the Awesome Again Stakes with 8 runners. This was won by Medina Spirit for trainer Bob Baffert, another success for him and was ridden by John Velasquez. The second and third home were Stilletto Boy and Express Train respectively.
Also in the States at Belmont Park, there were another three of top races on the dirt; the Champagne Stakes for 2 year olds over a mile which had 6 runners and was won by Jack Christopher in a very strung out race. He won by 4 lengths with another 7 lengths between second and third. The winner is trained by Chad Brown. The second home was Command Performance and third was Wit. There were also just six runners for the Woodward Stakes over 1 mile I furlong (2600 m) for 3 year olds and up. This was won by Art Collector, trained by William Mott and ridden by Luis Saez by 1 ½ lengths. There were 6 in the race with the second home, Maxfield with Dr Post third. Finally, The Frizette Stakes for 2 year old fillies only was run over 1 mile. This was a runaway win for Echo Zulu trained by Steve Asmussen with jockey Ricardo Santana taking the race by 7 ¼ lengths from Gerrymander.
Australia was not to miss out on the Group 1 bonanza as they had Group 1 races at both Randwick and Flemington. At Flemington, the TAB Turnbull Stakes for 4 year olds, over 1 mile 2 furlong contest on the turf was taken by Incentivise ridden by Brett Prebble winning by ½ a length. There were 10 runners. Moving onto Randwick, the first of the races was the Darley Flight Stakes for 3 year old fillies over a mile with 14 runners and this was taken by Never Been Kissed, (I’d bet she was after this win!!!) The second was the TAB Epsom Handicap, in which 11 runners took part for the 1 mile race. Private Eye won in a blanket finish by a short head from Aramayo who was just a nose in front of Dalasan. This was the second Group 1 win for jockey Ragan Bayliss. All three races were on the turf and the final offering was this time, for 3 year olds and up over 1 ½ miles, The Heineken Metropolitan Stakes which had 15 runners filling the stalls. Again in a tight finish, jockey Hugh Bowman steered Montefilia across the finish line to win with the favourite Entente a neck behind in second.
This article has rather turned out to be a list of results, but we make no apologies for that as the weekend’s racing had some cracking races with some equally cracking if not some surprising results to say the least!
images courtesy: racingsports, throughbredhorse, sportingbase , Si.com and Goldeneye Photography