Treve and rider Pascal Galoche are pictured during a training session in Gouvieux, north of Paris. Right: A poster promoting the race in Paris. Picture: Juhaim
By Mikhil Bhat/Paris
The word ‘history’ will be dropped many times in conversations around Longchamp. It’s that kind of a party.
Afterall, Al Shaqab Racing’s Treve is set to prove she is in a league all her own when she lines up along with other horses at the historic racecourse on Sunday. After having nailed the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, arguably the world’s most prestigious race, for two years in a row – 2013 and 2014 – the mare will bid for a historic hat-trick.
In fact, Treve only has to line up at the gates to create a history of sorts. None of the six other horses who have won the one and a half mile Group I race twice have gone for a third victory bid ever.
Thierry Jarnet, who has won l’Arc four times, including twice on Treve, will also bid to become the only jockey who has won the event five times.
Jarnet will definitely have the confidence going into the race after the Motivator filly’s magnificent six-length win at Prix Vermeille on September 13.
Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, who has now won l’Arc thrice, is also leaving nothing to chance.
With many horses staying away from the race owing to Treve’s dominance, she has decided to run a pacemaker in Shahah.
“I see everybody is going away, so we need a regular race,” Head-Maarek was quoted as saying in The Guardian. “When there are a lot of runners there’s no need for a pacemaker, but if there’s only two or three to beat, it’s going to be tactical race, a jockeys’ race, and I don’t want that. That’s why I want to put in a pacemaker. Whatever happens, there won’t be any excuse.”
Head-Maarek and Jarnet put Treve through her some final preparations before the big day on Sunday and have been upbeat about her chances.
“We did exactly the same work last year and the year before, but I feel she’s better than last year. For me, she is back to her best, that’s for sure. She is exactly the same, the only change is that she is stronger physically. She has grown and put a lot of weight on, and she is stronger,” the 66-year-old said spelling bad news for the competitors.
Among the competitors for Treve is New Bay, the second favourite. Trained by Andre Fabre, who has won l’Arc a record seven times, the French Derby winner won the Group 2 Prix Niel at Longchamp on the same day as Treve’s Vermeille win.
Migwar, owned by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, will also have an outing at l’Arc after finishing third in Prix Niel.
Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs has also been entered but trainer John Gosden is likely to run the colt only if the ground is soft. He could be supplemented by stablemate Golden Horn if the ground hardens up.
There have already been duels of words between Golden Horn owner Anthony Oppenheimer and Jarnet this week with the Englishman suggesting that his colt could beat Treve if the ground is good on Sunday. The 48-year-old Frenchman, for his part, said that he was not impressed by the Irish Champion Stakes winner.
The race will also be the last before Longchamp Racecourse undergoes a makeover. The two grandstands, erected in the 1960s, will make way for a futuristic replacement. Overall redesign of the facility is expected to cost owners France Galop $145 million.
Next year’s Arc will be held in Chantilly before returning to its Paris home in 2017.
All in all, Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is all set to be monumental, which is what the organisers are promising, and historic, which is what the contenders are hoping.