Terrific Treve makes it a one-horse show in Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Earlier Maarek provided little-known Co Tipperary trainer Barry Lalor with a Group One success in the Prix de l’Abbaye

France’s Thierry Jarnet, a late replacement for Frankie Dettori, punches the air after his victory on Treve in yesterday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Treve threw out the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe rulebook and showed why Frankie Dettori’s upset at picking up an injury which prevented him riding her was so heartfelt with a devastating success at Longchamp yesterday in Europe’s greatest race.

Condemned to an outside draw, supposedly a kiss-of-death in the Arc, the unbeaten French superstar filly put up a display evocative of Sea The Stars four years previously in managing to do so much wrong, and yet still run out a brilliant winner.

In fact, visually, Treve was as impressive any Arc winner of the last 40 years. That she managed to pass the line lengths clear of the Japanese favourite Orfevre, with Intello third and another Japanese horse, Kizuna, fourth, after sweating up beforehand, racing wide almost throughout, overcoming various bumps, and running too free was almost freakish.

Certainly the extent of Dettori's torment watching as his veteran replacement Thierry Jarnet sent Treve to the front early in the straight, needing only to keep her up to her work for the final furlong, can only be guessed at.


The great Italian rider had been looking forward to career redemption after his drugs ban earlier in the year. Only for a broken foot sustained at a mediocre meeting at lowly Nottingham last week he would have had it, and in a style to rank with most any other winner on European racing’s most prestigious prize.

“I want to say thank you to Frankie because he rode an amazing race on her in the Vermeille,” said Treve’s trainer Criquette Head-Maarek. “He saved her for today, and the way she won today was incredible.

“A big kiss and thank you to Frankie, I am sorry he is not here today.”

It was a second Arc for the trainer, 34 years after Three Troikas, another spectacular three year old filly, and a glorious success for her father, Alec Head, himself a four-time Arc winner, breeder of Treve, and patriarch of one of French racing's most famous racing dynasties.

European affair
But the Arc is now much more than a French, or even European affair. For the fifth time, Japan had to settle for runner-up spot in the race the Far Eastern thoroughbred powerhouse covets more than any other.

There was no repeat of Orfevre’s antics last year, when he threw away victory in the dying strides, but neither was there ever a moment when he wasn’t playing second-fiddle to Treve.

Time may also prove the 2013 Arc as the clinching moment in the love affair with racing of the sport’s newest, and richest investors.

The Qatari royal family sponsor the Arc and it was Sheikh Joann Al Thani who ponied up the €100,000 supplementary fee to put Treve into a race that Head-Maarek had been thinking of targeting only in 2014. That €100,000 investment could reverberate for lots of people in terms of long-term commitment.

Irish hopes
The shape of yesterday's race was dictated by a slow early pace which didn't help either of the Irish hopes, Ruler Of The World and Leading Light, and Aidan O'Brien reported: "It was messy but they finished off well. They are nice horses to look forward to next season."

Treve looks a dominant talent though and is already as low as 4/1 favourite to become the first back-to-back Arc winner since Alleged 35 years ago.

Earlier Maarek provided little-known Co Tipperary trainer Barry Lalor with a Group One success in the Prix de l'Abbaye, running down Catcall in the final strides under Declan McDonogh.

Hopes of another Group One success in the Prix la Foret looked good for much of the straight as Gordon Lord Byron struck for home but he was mown down in the closing stages by Moonlight Cloud.

The fact she was ridden by Jarnet only proved when a jockey’s luck is in, it can be in with a vengeance.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column