x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Filly led the charge for strong French showing at Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe while Japanese runners came up short again, writes Geoffrey Riddle

Jockey Thierry Jarnet celebrates on Treve after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in front of 52,000 racegoers that crammed into Longchamp in Paris on Sunday. Ian Langsdon / EPA
Jockey Thierry Jarnet celebrates on Treve after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in front of 52,000 racegoers that crammed into Longchamp in Paris on Sunday. Ian Langsdon / EPA

Paris // As the world tried to come to terms on Monday with exactly what Treve had achieved when winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday by five lengths, one statistic stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

Few of the 52,000 racegoers that crammed into Longchamp would disagree that Treve’s breathtaking change of gear on the wide outside under Thierry Jarnet was the stuff of legends.

When the times were applied to her balletic skip down the home straight, however, it is quite clear that an international superstar to replace Frankel and Black Caviar has arrived.

Treve covered the final 600 metres in just 34.74 seconds, which was a faster time than the Prix l’Abbaye sprint won by Maarek over 1,000 metres that closed out in 34.83.

Moonlight Cloud, who was so impressive when scything down Gordon Lord Byron in the Prix de la Foret, was slower still in her final 600 metres, covering the distance in 35.36.

The split times were not lost on Criquette Head-Maarek, Treve’s trainer, who confirmed that the filly will remain in training next year with the ultimate goal being a defence of her Arc crown.

“It’s her turn of foot that is so unbelievable,” Head-Maarek said. “When you look at the times they are incredible after a long-distance race like the Arc.”

Treve is slight of build and went around the parade ring before the race like an Imperial Walker from the Star Wars franchise. As a three-year-old filly, Treve is still no more than a gawky teenager, but Head-Maarek expects that as the unbeaten European champion blossoms into a fully mature thoroughbred the world can expect greater heights of athletic performance next season.

“She came easily into the false straight without pulling and she had plenty in hand,” the trainer said.

“There is a lot improvement in her and she can get better.”

Treve’s victory capped what was an impressive performance by French trainers over the two days of the Arc meeting.

French trainers won all seven thoroughbred races on Saturday, while on Arc day Maarek’s victory and Altano’s success in the Prix du Cadran for German Andreas Wohler were the only inroads made by foreign runners.

Paris Turf, the French racing daily, led with front page pictures of Treve, Jarnet, Head-Maarek and Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad all above the headline, “Dementiel”, roughly translating as “insane”.

The collateral damage to this robust French defence was that Japan once again failed to land the race they covet so badly.

In the immediate aftermath connections of Orfevre, who was the runner-up for the second successive season, did not rule out a repeat bid but the five year old’s swansong is to be the Grade 1 Arima Kinen.

It means Christophe Soumillon’s association with the horse is at an end, and Orfevre is likely to be ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe at Nakayama Racecourse in December.

“I am very sorry for the Japanese fans, owners and trainers who have tried to come and win this beautiful race and finish second again,” Soumillon said. “I am sure that it will happen for them some day.”

That day may be farther away than many think, though, if Shozo Sasaki is to be believed. Kizuna’s trainer appeared shell-shocked after seeing his Japanese Derby winner finish only fourth in front of an estimated 6,000 travelling Japanese fans.

Kizuna became the 16th Japanese challenger to travel 6,000 miles to France but fail to win.

Sasaki compared the mission of winning the Arc with trying to access the west from East Germany during the Cold War.

“It is very difficult for anybody to win this race,” Sasaki said. “It is like trying to climb over the Berlin Wall. The quality of horses is very high. We did everything that we could and we had the perfect conditions.

“As for next year, who knows what might happen? Kizuna is a three year old so has lots of possibilities.”

sports@thenational.ae