Treve stayed undefeated with a thrilling five length victory in the 92nd Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Photos courtesy Horsephotos.com)
Maybe there is something to this business of having an advantage at home. Of keeping success in the family. Of tradition holding forth.
Oh, yes. There’s also something to having a really good horse for a horse race.
All that applied to Treve. The only undefeated horse among the 17 in the race, the 3-year-old French filly won the 92nd Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe going away by five lengths over Orfevre – the favored Japanese horse that was supposed to rewrite all that. Intello finished a neck behind Orfèvre in third.
“When I saw the filly go, I said it’s over,” trainer Criquette Head-Maarek said. “I said to Papa we’ve won the race. They were not coming back to us.”
Papa is Alec Head, the second-generation patriarch of France’s first family of racing. He is also the man who runs the Haras du Quesnay breeding operation in Normandy that was responsible for Treve. She was the result of pairing the Alec Head’s stud Motivator with the broodmare Trevise, whose racing days were looked after by Criqutte’s brother and legendary trainer Freddy Head.
“She’s like a sister to me,” the 64-year-old Head-Maarek said of Treve. “We bred her. It’s a part of the family.”
That family has been responsible for owning, training and riding nine Arc winners – but none in the last 32 years. And that was not the only drought that ended on the soft ground at Longchamp.
Jockey Thierry Jarnet finally collected his third Arc victory – but his first in 19 years. He would not even have had a ride in the $6.5 million race were it not for Frankie Dettori’s untimely broken ankle suffered in a spill Wednesday at Newmarket, England. A three-time Arc winner, Dettori was out of Europe’s richest race for the first time in 26 years.
TREVE'S CONNECTIONS AT THE TROPHY PRESENTATION
“I’m over the moon,” Jarnet said. “But Frankie is a friend. I’m very desolate for Frankie.”
Even Head-Maarek herself freshened up the dusty footnote that has been written about her since 1979, when she was in charge of Three Troikas’ victory. She remains the only woman to train an Arc winner. Now she is the only woman to have done so twice.
“A good jockey is fantastic,” Head-Maarek said, giving full credit to Jarnet. “He knows Treve. He works for me a lot of the time. He rides my horses.”
Jarnet had ridden Treve’s first three victories, but that was before Alec Head sold the filly to Qatari’s Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani. It was then that any plans for Trêve to race in the Arc went from very tentative to very focused. It was also when Dettori, who had just come back from a six-month drug suspension, was signed by the sheikh and assigned to this red-hot filly.
Dettori rode her to victory in last month’s prep race – the Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares on the very same 1½ miles that Treve would be asked to cover in the Arc. Beforehand Head-Maarek made it clear to Dettori that he could not use up the filly in the Vermeille.
“I told Frankie that the target is the Arc,” Head-Maarek said. “I don’t want her to have a hard race. If we’re beaten in the Vermeille, we’ll be OK to win the Arc if she’s good enough. And Frankie rode the perfect race. He never touched her with his whip. So I want to thank him, and I’m so sorry for him that he’s not here today.”
If Dettori felt any heartache, he could have commiserated with the thousands of fans from Japan. Hundreds of whom lined up at the Longchamp gates to be the first ones in Sunday morning and get the prime, general-admission seats near the finish line. Their signs of support for Orfevre and fourth-place Kizuna were apparent from the rising-sun flags to the homemade signs for both horses.
“I would have preferred to have a calmer (race),” said Christophe Soumillon, who had also ridden Orfevre to last year’s narrow loss to Solemia. “When I saw Treve advancing, I followed her. With the effort she made I thought I could catch up with her. But she is an extraordinary filly.”
Where Soumillon sounded resigned, Jarnet was trying to soak in all that happened to him Sunday. About 90 minutes after the Arc, the 46-year-old Jarnet added a victory in the seven-furlong Group 1 Prix de la Foret aboard odds-on favorite Moonlight Cloud – another horse connected with the Head family. Freddy Head trains the 5-year-old mare who, at 4-0 this year, would seem an attractive challenger to defending champion Wise Dan next month in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. But after finishing eighth in that race last year at Santa Anita, Head sounded doubtful.
“There’s no plans with her,” he said. “I’m not sure about Santa Anita. We may go to Hong Kong, but I think it will be her last year, and she will go to stud.”
As for Treve, Head-Maarek has already said she expects to have her back at the 2014 Arc in a bid for the race’s first repeat winner since 1978. Trainer Yasotoshi Ikee said he may Orfevre back for a third try.
So it seems, then, that even the new traditions carry on at the Arc.