International Field Of 20 Drawn For 101st Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe

The world’s best horses will grace the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, whose Group 1 status places it at the pinnacle of world horse racing, at ParisLongchamp on Sunday, Oct. 2. It marks the 101st edition of Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which, in simple terms, is the world’s top race for English Thoroughbreds. Since 2015, the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, in conjunction with Longines, designates the world’s top race on an annual basis: and the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has topped the pile five times in seven years!

The 2022 edition of the race has a particularly international feel, as it has attracted runners from France, Britain, Ireland, Germany and Japan.

The German-trained TORQUATOR TASSO, the defending champion, puts his crown on the line, with Lanfranco DETTORI now in the plate. The latter is the most successful jockey in the race’s history, with six wins. However, TORQUATOR TASSO is not expected to start favourite this time round. As that status now befits the Irish 3-y-old LUXEMBOURG and the 5-y-old British mare ALPINISTA, with French hopes resting principally on ONESTO and VADENI: two 3-y-old colts who chased home (second and third) LUXEMBOURG on their last outing.

THE GERMANS ARE GEARING UP TO DEFEND THEIR TITLE

Last year marked the centenary edition of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and the ground in the 2021 edition was testing, as ParisLongchamp was hit by heavy rain on the eve of the race, and it generated a surprise winner, TORQUATOR TASSO. The latter, trained at Mülheim by Marcel WEISS, is owned by Gestüt Auenquelle (the nom de course of Peter-Michael ENDRES and Karl-Dieter ELLERBRACKE). TORQUATOR TASSO became the third German winner of the race – ten years after his compatriot DANEDREAM, who is still the race record holder (having clocked the 2400 m trip in 2’24”49 which equates to an average speed of in excess of 60 kms per hour). Horses which double up in the Arc are rare, and are the hallmark of exceptional talent. There have been only eight in the last 100 years, with TREVE (2013-14) and ENABLE (2017-18) the last to achieve this accolade. As a point of detail, there will be a change regarding the riding plans of TORQUATOR TASSO, as the iconic jockey Lanfranco DETTORI comes in for the ride.

As the horse’s regular partner, René PIECHULEK is retained to ride another German horse (Mendocino), who is trained by his partner Sarah STEINBERG. The René PIECHULEK ridden MENDOCINO even had the temerity to beat TORQUATOR TASSO when they clashed on their last outing in the Grosser Preis von Baden, which is the race that TORQUATOR TASSO won in 2021 prior to his success at ParisLongchamp.

Marcel WEISS (the trainer of TORQUATOR TASSO): “There was symbiosis on Tuesday morning between Frankie DETTORI and TORQUATOR TASSO in the workout. It was very important for us that Frankie was there to ride the horse going right-handed. He’s a very different horse when he’s going right-handed. After the horses had covered the initial 200m in the Grosser Preis der Baden, our fate was sealed because there was no pace. It proved impossible for TORQUATOR TASSO to be covered up. Frankie DETTORI tried to do his best by kicking for home early. The horse has come out of that race in good order, and we are going to Paris in an optimistic frame of mind. Although we still have to weigh up the impact of the draw [when it is made], and the size of the field [at the final declaration stage]. However, I’m not worried. In 2021, I was much more relaxed when it came to preparing the horse compared to this year. We were outsiders in 2021, and this year we are among the favourites. We would have been happy with a place last year, but on this occasion we will be disappointed if the horse doesn’t achieve a podium finish. The problem with the Arc is that once you win it, you want to win it again!”

Sarah STEINBERG (the trainer of MENDOCINO): “I saddled my first Group 1 winner at Baden-Baden, and I’m going to have my first runner in the Arc. It’s very exciting. MENDOCINO is a late maturing sort. Last year we bypassed the Deutsches Derby to wait for the autumn. He repaid the confidence by finishing second to ALPINISTA in the Grosser Preis Von Bayern. After this race, his owners wanted to aim him at the Arc. MENDOCINO had an unhappy time of it on several occasions during the summer: as the races weren’t run to suit, given that he likes a strong gallop, and the ground was not really to his liking. Moreover, his races came in fairly quick succession. There was certainly no pace in the Baden Baden race. However, the horse was able to race at the back of the pack, and it went well. We were hoping to be third. We didn’t expect to beat TORQUATOR TASSO! In view of the Arc, we decided to work the horse last Friday. We wanted to give him time to relax, and also to make time for a visit to the equine physiotherapist. I think that he has gained in confidence since his victory at Baden-Baden, and we are looking forward to Sunday. He’s a horse that can get stressed. As was the case at Baden-Baden, he will be equipped with ear plugs. In any case, we’re going there with confidence.”

René PIECHULEK (the jockey of MENDOCINO): “To compete in and win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is an incredible thing. I can’t wait to
return there this weekend. Of course I would have liked to have ridden TORQUATOR TASSO again, as we made history together. However, I have to honour my contractual obligations vis-à-vis my boss. Although they share the same sire, it is very difficult to compare MENDOCINO and TORQUATOR TASSO. The only two things that they have in common are a liking for soft ground, and an unhurried attitude to the way they race. TORQUATOR TASSO takes longer to pick up, whereas MENDOCINO has a good turn of foot. This is an advantage. If there is pace in the race, he should be fine, even in a field of 20 runners. I hope that we are drawn somewhere between five and 15. I think a big field is a source of concern. The presence of TORQUATOR TASSO really worries me. I’ll try not to lose sight of him [during the race], and that also applies to VADENI! It would also be great to win the Arc for my partner Sarah!”

DEAUVILLE (CALVADOS REGION) BANKS ON ITS THREE-YEAR-OLD COLTS

The last horse French-trained horse to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was SOTTSASS. He triumphed in 2020 and was trained at Deauville by Jean-Claude ROUGET. The handler will again be represented this year via a pair of 3-year-old colts, VADENI and AL HAKEEM.

VADENI is bred and owned by H.H. The Aga Khan. He went to the top of the tree in the French 3-year-old colts’ division after his Qatar Prix du Jockey-Club win in June. He then followed up by winning the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in Britain, when pitted against older and more experienced horses. He had his prep race in the Irish Champion Stakes over 2,000 metres at Leopardstown. He finished third to LUXEMBOURG and ONESTO, but Jean-Claude ROUGET felt that this race has done the colt a power of good. It was this very same race that the trainer chose as a springboard for SOTTSASS prior to his triumph in the « Arc »… It remains to be seen whether VADENI will have enough stamina in the locker when it comes to staying 2,400 metres, as he has never raced beyond 2,100 metres.

We are also entitled to ask the same question [when it comes to staying the distance] of AL HAKEEM. A son of SIYOUNI, the best Gallic stallions currently plying their trade, and in residence at one the French studs of H.H. The Aga Khan, AL HAKEEM carries the colours of a stable that will be keen to shine on Oct. 2, namely Al Shaqab Racing, which we associate with His Excellency Sheikh Joaan AL THANI: a member of the Qatari Royal family – the main sponsors of the card. AL HAKEEM does not have the credentials of VADENI: having finished fourth in the Qatar Prix du Jockey-Club when he didn’t have the happiest of races, before exuding class at the Deauville-Barrière Meeting by winning the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano.

Jean-Claude ROUGET (the trainer of VADENI and AL HAKEEM): “The most important thing for me is that the horses are well, and they are well. Then the ground factor comes into play: as I don’t want conditions to be too heavy. Lastly, I hope that both of them will get a good draw. Everyone will be praying for a low to middle draw… If you examine their pedigrees, VADENI is out of a mare by MONSUN, and the sire of Al Hakeem’s dam is GALILEO – two stallions that are influences for stamina. However, I’m not so sure that VADENI will stay. He’s a leading contender if he does. The Irish Champion Stakes sharpened him up. I wasn’t overly hard enough on him in terms of his work before the race. I’m aware of that. However, the race has done him good.
“I have more faith in Al Hakeem’s ability to stay. He ran really well in the Jockey-Club. He proved to be on a par with ONESTO that day. I got more work into him than VADENI before the Irish Champion Stakes, so that he would be ready for the Arc – where we are banking on his freshness. He’s a good horse. I think he’ll stay in training as a four-year-old.”

Georges RIMAUD (manager of the Aga Khan Studs: the owner-breeder of VADENI): “If he had won in Ireland, I suppose we would be heading to the Champion Stakes at Ascot, although there still would have been the temptation to go for the Arc. Tackling the Arc was not an easy decision, in the sense that we thought that we would keep him to shorter trips. After his defeat in the Irish Champion Stakes, we gave the matter a great deal of thought, and reasoned that we had a better chance of getting more suitable ground in the Arc than at Ascot. Jean-Claude ROUGET and Christophe SOUMILLON think that the colt will stay the trip. We made the decision to run the Arc – a race which many people were hoping to see him contest after his victory in the Jockey-Club. I watched VADENI work on Monday. The colt has strengthened up considerably, and you can sense that he’s
concert pitch. He has improved in terms of his physical condition.”

THE CREAM OF CHANTILLY (OISE REGION)

Chantilly is the largest training centre in France. It is therefore not surprising that it is the best represented one in the «Arc» with four runners hailing from as many different yards. The only one of the quartet to have already won the race is André FABRE, but his hopes of victory this year rest solely on MARE AUSTRALIS whose form is questionable.

Fabrice CHAPPET will saddle the 3-y-old. ONESTO, who carries the colours of Gérard AUGUSTINNORMAND. The businessman is among the top French owners, and he acquired a 50 per cent stake in the colt after his excellent fifth in the Qatar Prix du Jockey-Club. It has proved to be a shrewd
investment, as ONESTO has since landed the Grand Prix de Paris, and is coming off an excellent second, when beaten the minimum margin, by the Irish colt LUXEMBOURG in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Francis-Henri GRAFFARD will saddle SEALIWAY. A graduate of Guy Pariente’s Haras de Colleville (Calvados), he is co-owned by the former (his breeder) and the Haras de la Gousserie (Chehboub family), and the colt provided them with some unforgettable moments in the wake of his win in the Champion Stakes, one of the top British races, which came two weeks after his fifth in the 2021 Arc.

As last year, Mikel DELZANGLES will be again be represented by BUBBLE GIFT, who was eighth in 2021, and a recent second in the Qatar Prix Foy. BUBBLE GIFT is bred and owned by Zak BLOODSTOCK. The creation of Moroccan businessman Zakaria HAKAM, the stable was taken over by his widow Mouna BENGELOUN when the former died suddenly in 2009.

Fabrice CHAPPET (the trainer of ONESTO): “He produced a remarkable performance in Ireland in a truly run race, and which enabled him to harness his turn of foot, which is his great strength. The colt has come out of the race in good order. He worked on Monday morning at the Piste des Reservoirs [training gallop), and his latest piece of work was very pleasing. He will have the advantage of having won over the Arc course [and distance]. As for the ground, we hope, as with any horse of this class, that he will not be racing on extreme ground, but the manager of France Galop seems rather optimistic on this score. We trust him! The draw will be important, but less so than in the Prix du Jockey-Club. The race will be run at a strong gallop, given the presence of the Japanese horses, and the open stretch will come into operation: so we should be able to cope in the event of a wide draw.”

THE PRINCESS OF MAISONS-LAFFITTE (YVELINES REGION)

Flying the flag for the Maisons-Laffitte training centre (the closest to Paris) will be by the 6-year-old mare Grand Glory, who is trained by Gianluca BIETOLINI. Last year she came within an ace of victory in the Prix de l’Opéra Longines, which is sometimes labelled the Arc de Triomphe for fillies/mares. GRAND GLORY was subsequently sent to Japan where she contested one of the most iconic races in the racing calendar there, the Japan Cup, where she finished a very respectable fifth, before going through the ring at the Arqana December Sale. Bloodstock agent Anne-Sophie YOH signed the docket after acquiring the mare for 2.5 million euros, as GRAND GLORY changed ownership. The mare currently represents the Haras de Hus: a concern associated with businessman Xavier MARIE. The founder of the Maisons du Monde brand, and now at the head of the Marco Polo group (Éric Bompard, Bonton, No Name…) Xavier MARIE is passionate about horses. Very active in the world of equestrian sports, and for this read dressage and show jumping, he recently decided to invest in English thoroughbreds, through the medium of acquiring broodmares so as to build his breeding operation. GRAND GLORY is the jewel in the crown. Before retiring to stud, one last mission awaits the mare!

Gianluca BIETOLINI (the trainer of GRAND GLORY): “The mare is on good terms with herself. I am satisfied. She’s indifferent as regards the state of the ground, but the question that I ask myself each time she runs concerns the pace of the race… Last time out the pace was far too slow for her! If it’s a truly run race that’s fine, but if the reverse is the case it can be a problem.”

LUXEMBOURG CARRIES THE HOPES OF IRELAND

On a European scale, Ireland is the number one racing country when it comes to the breeding of English thoroughbreds. The Emerald Isle records around 10,000 English thoroughbred births annually, compared to 5,500 in France and 4,700 in Britain. The top stallions are based there, and, unsurprisingly, Irish horses are among the most successful in the world. The leading Irish trainer is Aidan O’BRIEN. He oversees the Coolmore operation, which is considered to be the superpower of international racing, and whose main aim is to produce the stallions [of the future]. Coolmore has also shown a propensity when it comes to joining forces with other owner-breeders of international standing so as to increase their presence in the marketplace; as was the case with the colt LUXEMBOURG. A son of the Coolmore stallion Camelot, and purchased for €150,000 as yearling (a
young horse of around 18 months old) in partnership with Westerberg: the horse racing wing of Georg VON OPEL and great-grandson of the founder of the renowned German car manufacturer.

Aidan O’BRIEN boasts two prior Arc wins with Dylan THOMAS (2007) and FOUND (2016), but LUXEMBOURG would become his first three-year-old winner. LUXEMBOURG was widely touted as a future Epsom Derby last winter, but health issues side-lined him from classic. He made his
reappearance in late August, and impressed in mid-September via his win in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Aidan O’BRIEN (the trainer of LUXEMBOURG and BROOME): “The plan is to run both LUXEMBOURG and BROOME. After making his seasonal debut in the 2,000 Guineas, LUXEMBURG suffered a muscle problem which called for a fairly long rest period. On his comeback race at the Curragh on 13 August, he was just about ready. After this, he produced a great performance in the Irish Champion Stakes. He has come out of that race in good order. He hasn’t needed a lot of work. I hope that the going will not be on the extreme side, which is a view shared by many of my colleagues. He has raced on soft ground before, but, ideally, I would prefer ground that is not too soft for him. He’s a very relaxed colt in his races, and so big fields don’t bother him. He should stay 2,400 metres. BROOME, now a 6-year-old, loves galloping tracks such as ParisLongchamp. He’s less suited to the turning tracks of the US.”

JAPAN RESPONDS TO THE POWER OF FOUR

If there is one nation which is fascinated by the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe it is Japan, as the whole country will be glued to their television screens on Sunday (whereas some of their citizens will even be making the trip to France!) so as to support the country’s four runners,  TITLEHOLDER, DO DEUCE, STAY FOOLISH and DEEP BOND. Japan has been trying to win our iconic race for a long time: and SYMBOLI SPEED was their first runner in 1969. To date, 17 editions of the Arc have attracted runners from Japan!

TITLEHOLDER: The 4-year-old is considered to be the leading Japanese Arc hopeful. He is trained by Toru KURITA, who scouted the France racing scene in person by travelling to Deauville in August, before deciding to send his horse into training at Chantilly. TITLEHOLDER will be his first runner in the Arc.

STAY FOOLISH: The 7-year-old really came into his own at the beginning of the year. He relishes long distance races (trips in excess of 3,000 metres), whereas the Arc is run over 2,400 metres. He is therefore an outsider, but he will be ridden by Christophe LEMAIRE, who is a jockey who knows every inch of Longchamp. STAY FOOLISH’S trainer is Yoshito YAHAGI: the star of the Japanese trainers’ division.

DO DEUCE: The 3-year-old colt won the Japanese Derby in May. He arrived in France on September 2 before being vanned to Chantilly. His trainer, Yasuo TOMOMICHI, has already had a runner in the Arc: namely MAKAHIKI in 2016. Do Deuce is owned by Masaaki MATSUSHIMA, who made his fortune in the luxury cars’ sector. He is also co-owner of BROOME. Masaaki MATSUSHIMA’S dream is to fulfil the ambition of his great friend, the jockey Yutaka TAKE: which is to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

DEEP BOND: He has already contested an Arc, having finished last in 2021 because of his aversion to heavy ground. The horse arrived in France on Friday 9 September before bedding-in at Chantilly. His owner, Koji MAEDA, is part of a prestigious Japanese racing dynasty, which has forged a reputation for its love of racing outside Japan’s frontiers.

Ryuji OKUBO (the trainer of DEEP BOND): “He has never trained on such deep ground, and it went well. In Japan, we don’t have these kinds of
tracks. After his training, he was breathing normally and all lights are flashing green. He contested the Prix Foy last year, which he won. However, he’s a very generous horse who gives his all in his races, and he paid for those exertions in the Arc, as he was still a tired horse. So we made the choice
to run him directly in the Arc this year. Physically, he is in better shape than in 2021. This is our second attempt at the Arc, and we learned a lot from last year. The race strategy is as yet undefined: as it will depend on the draw, and once we know more, we will elaborate accordingly. He is capable of doing well from the front, but we can also employ waiting tactics with him.”

Toru KURITA (the trainer of TITLEHOLDER): “He has improved a lot this year, both mentally and physically, which explains his performances. His
owner wanted to head straight to the Arc, and I agreed. For us, running one of the trial races followed by the Arc was risky: as there is more time between races in Japan. Today (editor’s note: Wednesday), he worked over 2,000 m, having hunted up two horses from the Satoshi Kobayashi yard: the idea being to get him to pick up gradually with a view to finishing in crescendo. I’m happy with that. It’s difficult to say if he’s firing on all cylinders, as in the Takarazuka Kinen, because the training regime is not the same here, the tracks are different, and the ground is soft. However, I think he’s been getting better and better week on week.”

Yasuo TOMOMICHI (the trainer of DO DEUCE): “His prior experience of ParisLongchamp is important. Since then, he has lost weight, and I’m happy with that. He had a workout last week, with Yutaka TAKE in the plate, and, in line with what we do in Japan, this takes place a fortnight before a race. The idea this week was not to subject the colt to any hard training, and to just keep him ticking over. I think that’s he well-prepared. I had a runner in the Arc six years ago (MAKAHIKI) and have learned from that experience. We have made use of all the available training facilities at Chantilly. My training methods have improved, and so, too, has the quality of my horses. I have big expectations regarding Sunday’s race.”

Yoshito YAHAGI (the trainer of STAY FOOLISH): “He’s not a good worker in the morning and doesn’t do what we ask of him! However, he always
endeavours to surprise us in his races, and I’m expecting him to surprise me on Sunday! His work today wasn’t taxing, and he wasn’t blowing afterwards. When he ran in the Grand Prix de Deauville, he was only 60 per cent fit. I haven’t seen him for a long time, but think that he’s come on nicely.”

ALPINISTA FACES HER EVEREST!

All British horse racing lovers (and there are many!) will be rooting for the 5-year-old mare ALPINISTA. The latter is trained at Newmarket (the British equivalent of Chantilly) by Sir Mark PRESCOTT and owned by Kirsten RAUSING, who is something of an atypical racing personality, having
originally made her way to Ireland from her native Sweden aged twenty, and this with a filly from her own breeding operation in tow… and lest it be forgotten – Kirsten RAUSING has been breeding horses since she was a teenager, just as her grandfather did before her…

The French public first cast their eyes on ALPINISTA during the summer, when she won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. She is coming off a win in another Group 1 race, the Yorkshire Oaks (a race that the great ENABLE annexed before her second win in the Arc), and the mare is currently riding a
winning streak of seven, which includes five victories at the highest level! ALPINISTA has only raced fourteen times in four season. However, winning the Arc as a 5-year- old mare is a tough ask. As the last mare to do so was CORRIDA, and that dates back to… 1937! It has to be said that as a general
rule of thumb, fillies are packed off to stud so to pass on their precious gene pool at the end of their 4-year-old careers, or even at the backend of their 3-year-old campaigns!

VERY SOFT GROUND IS FORECAST

The rain finally arrived in the Parisian region at the beginning of the week, and the ground is expected to ride very soft on Sunday, if the weather forecasts, which predict between 6 and 10mm of rain on Saturday, are correct.

On Sunday, the running rail will revert to its usual place, and the open stretch, which is 5m out from the inside rail, will be in operation until the 400m marker. This part of the track has not seen any racing since July 14.

Extensive work was carried out during the summer break to ensure that the track is as even as possible. The grass was cut to a depth of 10 cms on Wednesday, and the track was rolled on Thursday.

The post International Field Of 20 Drawn For 101st Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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