Germany isn’t one of European racing’s Tripartite powers but on Sunday it landed the continent’s richest race, the €5 million Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, for a third time with the outsider Torquator Tasso.
Once again the Germans reminded everyone of the dangers of taking them for granted on the biggest stage of all in Longchamp on the first Sunday in October.
The winner’s 80-1 odds weren’t as extreme as Star Appeal’s 119-1 ‘SP’ in 1975 but four times what Danedream started at ten years ago.
Danedream broke the race record on that occasion but the reputation of stoutly-bred German horses coming into their own on heavy ground seemed to be widely forgotten ahead of this 100th Arc.
Even an overnight downpour that turned the going heavy didn’t upset predictions of a classic Arc contest fought out by racing’s superpowers from Ireland, Britain, France and even further afield.
Sure enough the Aga Khan's Breeders Cup champion Tarnawa ran a stormer for Dermot Weld to get the better of Godolphin's pair of Derby winners, Hurricane Land and Adayar.
Aidan O’Brien’s dual-Oaks heroine Snowfall was sixth just ahead of Japan’s top middle-distance mare Chrono Genesis.
However ahead of all of them was the four-year-old interloper, runner-up in the 2020 Deutsches Derby to In Swoop yet widely assumed to be making up the numbers in one of the best Arc line-ups in recent years.
Nevertheless the German colt stormed down the outside to beat Tarnawa by three parts of length under 34-year-old jockey Rene Piechulek, supplying a landmark victory to trainer Marcel Weiss in just his second year with a licence.
If the outcome had punters around Europe scratching their heads and ‘googling’ unfamiliar connections it was a timely reminder of how the German breeding industry’s unfashionable aim of targeting stamina rather than raw speed can pay off.
Beforehand Weiss had quietly reminded everyone of how German horses had run well in the Arc in the past but acknowledged there wasn’t much respect for them from bookmakers.
Since at least one firm described Torquator Tasso as ‘friendless’ in the market the layers weren’t alone in that.
None of which mattered to Weiss who reported: “That was beautiful. He’s a very strong horse and that was amazing. You can’t go higher than the Arc. I’ve dreamt about and now I’ve won it, absolutely unreal.
“Before the Arc he’s produced some very good performances. He’s a dual-Group 1 winner and Group 2 winner already. He is already a star in Germany.
“Even though I thought this was the strongest Arc of the last few years we deserved to run.
“We would have been very happy if he’s finished third, fourth, fifth or sixth. We would have considered that a success,” he added.
Anything but a win was bitter disappointment for Weld who pointed to ground conditions as critical.
“We know the speed she has but she just couldn’t quicken in the gluey ground. We tried so hard. We had prepared very, very well today and everything was right. But my worry was all the rain that came last night.
“This filly has a lot of pace. We saw the way she won at the Breeders Cup. She just couldn’t pick up today,” the Irishman said.
Later on the Arc card Ado McGuinness saw his decision to supplement A Case Of You into the Prix de l’Abbaye pay off with a vengeance as Ronan Whelan’s mount got the better of a photo-finish with Air De Valse in the Group 1 sprint.
It was a first Irish win in France’s top sprint since Maarek in 2013 and a breakthrough top-flight victory for north Dublin based McGuinness.
“We ran him in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and he wasn’t right but I knew he was right today. I have a good sprinter that won the other night and he can’t lay up with this horse,” he said.
Joseph O’Brien’s Agartha faded to fourth in the Prix Marcel Boussac behind Zellie and the Group 1 action closed at Longchamp with a smooth success in the Prix de la Foret for Godolphin’s favourite Space Blue ahead of Pearls Galore.